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Astounding T” 
SCIENCE FICTION 






r W m 



BUILD 125 COMPUTERS 
AT HOME WITH SEHIAC' 



ONLY 

W 5 



With the 1958 model GENIAC®, the originol electric brain construction 
kit including seven books and pamphlets, over 400 parts and component 
rack, and parts tray, and all materials for experimental computer lab 
plus DESIGN-O-Mot®. 



A COMPLETE COURSE IN 
COMPUTER FUNDAMENTALS 



The GENIAC Kit by itself is the equivalent of a complete course in 
computer fundamentals, in use by thousands of colleges, schools and 
industrial training labs and private individuals. Includes everything 
necessary for building an astonishing variety of computers that reason, 
calculate, solve codes and puzzles, forecast the weather, compose music, 
etc. Included in every set are seven books described below, which in- 
troduce you step-by-step to the wonder and variety of computer funda- 
mentals and the special problems involved in designing and building 
your own experimental computers — the way so many of our customers 
have. 



ANYONE CAN BUILD IT! 



You can build any one of these 125 exciting electric brain machines 
In just a few hours by following the dear cut step by step directions 
given in these thrilling books. No soldering required ... no wiring 
beyond your skill. But GENIAC is a genuine electric brain machine— 
not a toy. The only logic and reasoning machine kit in the world that 
not only adds and subtracts but presents the basic ideas of cybernetics, 
boolean algebra, symbolic logic, automation, etc. So simple to construct 
that a twelve year old can build what will fascinate a PhD. In use by 
thousands of schools, colleges, etc. and with the special low circuitry 
you can build machines that compose music, forecast the weather, which 
have just recently been added. * 



TEXT PREPARED BY MIT SPECIALIST 



Dr. Claude Shannon, known to the readers of “ASTOUNDING” for 
his invention of the electronic mouse, that runs a maze, learning as it 
goes, formerly a researcli mathematician for Bell Telephone Labora- 
tories is now a research associate at MIT. His books include publica- 
tions oh Communication theory and the recent volume “Automat 
Studies" on the theory of robot construction. He has prepared a paper 
entitled “A Symbolic Analysis of Relay and Switching Circuits" which 
is available to purchasers of the GENIAC. Covering the basic theory 
necessary for advanced circuit design it vastly extends the range of 
our kit. 

The complete design of the kit and the manual as well as the special 
book DESIGN-O-Mat® was created by Oliver Garfield, author of “Minds 
and Machines,” editor of the "Gifted Child Magazine” and the “Re- 
view of Technical Publications." 



KIT IS COMPLETE 




OVER 20,000 
SOLD 



We are proud to announce that over 20.000 GEN I ACS arc 
in use by satisfied customers — schools, colleges, indus- 
trial firms and private individuals — a tribute to the 
skill and design work which makes it America’s leading 
scientific kit. People like yourself with a desire to 
inform themselves about the computer field know that 
GENIAC is the only method for learning that includes 
both materials and tests and is devoted exclusive to the 
problems faced in computer study. 

You are safe In joining this group because you arc fully 
protected by our guarantee, and have a complete question 
and answer service available at no cost beyond that of the 
ktt Itself. You share in the experience of 20,000 kit 
users which contributes to the success of the 1058 
GENIAC— with DESIGN-O-Matriil the exclusive product 
of Oliver Garfield Co., Inc., a Geniae is truly the most 
complete and unique kit of Its kind in the world. 



COMMENTS BY 
CUSTOMERS 



We know the best recommendation for GENIAC is what 
it has done for the people who bought it. The comments 
from our customers we like best aro the ones that come 
In daily attached to new circuits that have been created 
by the owners of GEN I ACS. Recently one man wrote: 
“GENIAC has opened a new world of thinking to me.” 
Another who designed the "Machine that Forecasts tho 
Weather” commented: 

•‘Several months at/o I purchased your GENIAC Kit oml 
found it an excellent piece of equipment. / learned a 
lot about computers from the enclosed books and pam- 
phlets and I am now designing a srmtll relay computer 
which will include arithmetical and logical units . . . 
another of my pet projects in cybernetics is a weather 
forecaster. I find that your GENIAC hit may be used 
in their construction. J enclose the circuits and their 
explanation.” Eugene Dowling. Malden. 



The 1958 GENIAC comes complete with the following books and 
manuals and over 400 components. 

1) A sixty- four page book "Simple Electric Brains and How to 
Make Them.” 

2) Beginners Manual— which outlines for people with no previous 
experience how to create electric circuits. 

3) “A Symbolic Analysis of Relay and Switching Circuits" By 
Dr. Claude Shannon provides the basis for new and exciting ex- 
perimental work by the kit owner who has finished book No. 1. 

4) DESJGN-O-Mat® introduces the usjer to over 50 new circuits 
that he can build with GENIAC and outlines the practical prin- 
ciple of circuit design. 

5) GENIAC STUDY GUIDE equivalent to a complete course In 
computer fundamentals, this guides the user to more advanced 
literature, 

6) A Machine to Compose Music shows In an actual circuit what 
other GENIAC owners have been able to do on their own Id de- 
signing new devices. 

7) A Machine to Forecast the Weather — again a new adven- 
ture in scientific thinking created by one of our users who was 
trained on his GENIAC Kit. 

Plus all the components necessary for the building of over 125 
machines and as many others as you can design yourself. 



r — a 

| Oliver Garfield Co.. Inc. Dept. ASF-128 I 
I 108 East 18th St.. N. Y. 3, N. Y. | 



■ Please send me at once the GENIAC Electric Brain Construction I 
Kit. 1958 model. I understand that it is guaranteed by you and may " 
| be returned in seven days for a full refund if I am not satisfied. .| 
I 1 I have enclosed $19.95 (plus 80c shipping in U. S.. $1.50 west _ 
| I — I of Miss. , $2.00 foreign), 3% New York City Sales Tux for | 
N. Y. City Residents. 

® I I Send GENIAC C.O.D. 1 will pay postman $19.95 + postago I 
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: VOL. LXII • NO. 4 

Astounding 



SCIENCE FICTION 



Novelettes 

Ministry of Disturbance, H. Beam Piper . . 
The Queen Bee, Randall Garrett 



8 

70 



DECEMBER 

1958 



Short Stories 

Triggerman, J. F. Bone . . 47 

Pieces of the Game, Mack Reynolds ... 56 

Seller’s Market, Christopher Anvil .... 97 

Serial 

A Bicycle Built for Brew, Foul Anderson . Ill 
(Conclusion) 



Readers' Departments 

The Editor’s Page 4 

In Times to Come 46 

The Analytical Laboratory 69 



The Reference Library, P. Schuyler Miller 151 



The editorial contents have not been 
published before, are protected by 
copyright and cannot be reprinted 
without publisher’s permission. All 
stories in this magazine are liction. 
No actual persons are designated by 
name or character. Any similarity 
is coincidental. 

Astounding SCIENCE FICTION 
published monthly by Street & 
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JOHN W. CAMPBELL, JR. 
Editor 



KAY TARRANT 
Assistant Editor 



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Printed in »• the U.S.A. 

NEXT ISSUE ON SALE 



COVER BY EMSH 

Illustrations by Freas, Martinez and van Dong en 



DECEMBER 16. 1958 

$3.50 per Year in U. S. A. 
35 cents per Copy 



POLITICAL 

SCIENCE 




.UKTJUa 



HE last time a profes- 
sional Political Scien- 
tist was Chief Executive 
of the United States, 
the results were un- 
fortunate. Professional Political Scien- 
tists do not seem to have made a 
great impress on the political situation 
of the world. And it is quite general- 
ly agreed that Politicians — who sel- 
dom claim to be political scientists — 
haven’t done too well with the prob- 
lems. That, at least, there is something 
to be desired. 

Some eight years ago, my wife and 
I started a private project, with a coin 
bracelet as its symbol and reminder. 
The bracelet is simply a gold chain, 
with a series of gold coins dangling 
from it. 

Each coin, however, "was there” 
at the height of one of Man’s great, 
historic empires — when the Empire 
was at its peak, and the people of the 
mighty nation knew that they had 

4 



reached the highest point Man had 
ever known; that they had the world 
by the tail . . . 

There’s a coin of Alexander the 
Great, for instance, and one of Caesar 
Augustus. Augustus’ coin shows an 
aurochs on the reverse; the artisan 
that carved the die from which that 
coin was struck had seen the aurochs 
in the Arena. Today, of course, the 
aurochs — and the Roman Empire — 
are extinct. 

There’s a coin of Justinian, and 
one of Venice, the first of the com- 
mercial empires. And Ferdinand and 
Isabella. 

And one of Victoria Regina. 

Every Empire Man has ever built 
could be there. The Incas had no 
coins; Croesus was the first King to 
mint coins-as-we-know-them, so the 
Babylonians and Egyptians, who pre- 
ceded him by some millennia, did 
not have coins. 

We’ve been interested in studying 
ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 




Make over 150 Small 
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EQUALS THE ORIGINAL GENIAC® electric 
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improvements and additions: over 600 parts 
— including 116 improved patented wipers 
so that all switches work well. Instead of 
covering only 33 machines, BRAINIAC 
gives full specifications for 151 computing, 
reasoning, arithmetical, logical, puzzle- 
solving and game-playing machines ... all 
33 GENIACS (1955), 13 TYNIACS (1956), 
and 105 BRAIN I ACS (1957-58), etc. 

THIS IS BRAINIAC! With our Brainiac Kit K17, 
you can build over 150 small electric brain ma- 
chines and toys which “think,” compute, rea- 
son, and display intelligent behavior. Each one 
works on a single flashlight battery ... is FUN 
to make, FUN to use and play with, and 
TEACHES you something new about electrical 
computing and reasoning circuits. All connec- 
tions with nuts and bolts — no soldering requir- 
ed. Originated and produced exclusively by 
Berkeley Enterprises, Brainiac is the result of 
8 years’ design and development work with 
miniature mechanical brains including: Geniac 
(see “Geniacs: Small Electric Brain Machines 
and How to Make Them” by Edmund C. Berke- 
ley, 64 pp., published by Geniac Project, a 
partnership with Oliver Garfield discontinued 
September 1955), Tyniac (1956), Relay Moe 
(automatic relay machine, playing tit-tat-toe — 
pictured in Life Magazine, March 19, 1956), 
Simon (miniature automatic digital computer 
with 129 relays — see “Simple Simon” by E. C. 
Berkeley in Scientific American, November 1, 
1950), Squee (electronic robot squirrel — see 
“Light Sensitive Electronic Beast” by E. C. 
Berkeley in Radio Electronics, Dec. 1951), etc. 




WHAT CAN YOU MAKE WITH BRAINIAC KIT 
K17? Over 150 machines including- Logic Ma- 
chines: Syllogism Prover, Intelligence Test, 
Boolean Algebra Circuits, Douglas MacDonald’s 
Will Analyzer, A Simple Kalin — Burkhart Log- 
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chines: Tit-Tat-Toe, Nim, Wheeled Bandit, 
Black Match, Sundorra 21, etc. Computers : 
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imal or binary numbers. Forty-Year Calendar, 
Prime Number Indicator, Money-Changing 
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tions, etc. Puzzle-solving Machines: The 
Missionaries and the Cannibals, Age-Guessing 
Machine, Submarine Rescue Chamber, Daisy 
Petal Machine, Fox-Hen-Corn & Hired Man, 
Uranium Space Ship and the Space Pirates, 
The Three Monkeys Who Spurned Evil, Gen- 
eral Alarm at the Fortress of Dreadreerie, etc. 
Quiz Machines : History, geography, trigon- 
ometry. grammar, statistics, calculus, etc. 



WHAT COMES WITH YOUR BRAINIAC KIT . . . 

Complete Plans, Instructions, Explanations & Hardware: 

© Every part needed to build Geniacs. Tyniacs, Brainiacs — over 600 
pieces including control panel, multiple switch discs, jumpers, 
improyed wipers, bulbs, sockets, washers, wire, battery and spe- 
cial tools. 

© Complete descriptions of 151 experiments and machines. 

© Over 160 circuit diagrams including 46 exact wiring templates. 

• Manual “Tyniacs: Small Electric Brain Machines and How to 
Make Them” "by Edmund C. Berkeley, 1956. 48 pages — includes 
Introduction to Boolean Algebra for Designing Circuits. 

© “How to Go From Brainiacs and Geniacs to Automatic Com- 
puters” by Edmund C. Berkeley. 

• -Dr. Claude E. Shannon’s historic 1938 paper given before the 
American Institute of Electrical Engineers: “A Symbolic Anal 
ysis of Relay and Switching Circuits,” 12 pages. 



WHO IS EDMUND C. BERKE- 
LEY? Author of “Giant Brains or 
Machines That Think,” Wiley, 
1949, 270 pp. (13,000 copies sold); 
author of “Computers' Their Oper- 
ation and Applications,” Reinhold, 
1956, 366 pp. : Editor & Publisher 
of the magazine. Computers and 
Automation. Maker and Developer 
of small robots; Fellow of the So- 
ciety of Actuaries; Secretary (1947- 
53) of the Association for Comput- 
ing Machinery; Designer of all the 
Tyniacs and Brainiacs. more than 
half of the 33 Geniacs (1955) ; De- 
signer of the Multiple Switch Disc 
and other features in the 1955 Gen- 
iac kit. 



only $]J95 . . . why pay more? 



BRAINIAC KIT (1958 Model) K 17 . . . the kit with 
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I"”— MAIL THIS COUPON — — — - 
| BERKELEY ENTERPRISES. Inc. 

■j 815 Washington St., RI68, Newtonvillc 60. Mass. 

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I factory — if in good condition.) I enclose 

H $ in full payment. 

! My Name and Address are attached 



’i 

I 

I 

B 

B 

B 



the question, "What — besides col- 
lapse — did these Empires have in 
common?’’ It started as a good sci- 
ence-fiction question; there should be 
some powerful stories in that ma- 
terial ! 

Turns out there is. But it isn’t, of 
course, fiction . . . and it isn’t quite 
so remote as it seemed. 

Let’s look at a series of individual 
items, no one of which "proves" 
anything, but which, together, seem 
to make a pattern. 

I. To map any territory, it is neces- 
sary that the mapping "surface" have 
the same fundamental characteristics 
— topologically — as the territory be- 
ing mapped. You cannot map a 
sphere onto a plane, nor can you 
map a sphere onto a doughnut; the 
plane and the doughnut both possess 
topological characteristics alien to the 
sphere. 

Then if a territory can be mapped 
successfully onto a given surface, it’s 
- evidence that the given surface must 
have the fundamental features of the 
-territory. 

This doesn’t mean that distortion 
may not be introduced; you can map 
a sphere onto an egg, for while there 
may be distortions, the surface is not 
torn in the process. 

Now Logic is, in essence, a kind 
of mapping "surface"; we can "map” 
the world around us onto a logical 
context, and by studying the logical 
map, determine relationships which 
prove valid in the real world. 

Science is based on that fact; if 
logic were not an excellent mapping 
"surface” for the physical world, 

6 



Science would not be able to progress 
as it has. 

Here, however, is where the an- 
guished shrieks will start. We can 
invert that proposition; the funda- 
mental properties of physical reality 
must be reflected in the fundamental 
characteristics of logic — and one of 
the dominant, overriding and ines- 
capable characteristics of physical 
systems is Entropy — the tendency of 
any and all physical systems to level 
out into a situation of no-difference. 
The "heat death” of the Universe is 
postulated on that great principle of 
Entropy. 

If Logic is a true map of the physi- 
cal universe — and Science says it is ! 
— then any logical system must de- 
generate inescapably to pure entropy. 
Any and all logical systems! 

Ib. History shows that Man’s em- 
pires have wound up either in an- 
archy and chaos, or in a rigid tra- 
ditionalism. 

Tradition is not logical; ritual and 
taboo cultures are nonlogical, and 
nonthinking. One does X because 
Ritual requires it; one never does Y 
because it is taboo. The answer to 
all questions is, “Because it Is.” 

Traditionalism does not lead to de- 
generacy, because it is nonlogical, it 
does not, therefore, have the logical 
characteristic of entropy. 

But all logical empires have, with 
perfect regularity, degenerated to the 
closest approach to pure entropy that 
the world-situation of the time would 
permit. 

Now the essence, of entropy is 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 



that there can be an immense amount 
of energy present — but while the 
energy is not zero, the available en- 
ergy is. In a universe filled with gas 
at 1000°, there is no available heat- 
energy. Entropy is the measure of 
no-useful-difference; When every 
atom of gas has the same effective 
energy level, there is no useful dif- 
ference, and no detectable energy- 
flow is possible. Things don’t 
come to a halt; it is just that 
in a situation of perfectly uni- 
form equality, no change can have 
meaning. 

In a culture in which entropy is 
dominant, the tendency is toward 
no-difference. 

Marx observed with perfect ac- 
curacy; the only trouble with him 
was that he misinterpreted what he 
observed. He was perfectly correct in 
saying that "historical necessity” 
showed that the Dictatorship of the 
Proletariat would come, and that 
it would be followed by the develop- 
ment of a Classless Society. His ob- 
servations were valid; his slight mis- 
take was in considering that a de- 
sirable situation! 

Every one of Man’s Logical Em- 
pires, without exception, has follow- 
ed the nature of Logic to its bitter, 
meaningless end — the cultural en- 
tropy of Anarchy and Chaos. An- 
archy is, after all, the only truly logi- 
cal government ! 

The Dictatorship of the Proletariat 
occurs in an empire as Logic becomes 
powerfully dominant over the non- 
fogical factor men call Judgment. 
The Classless Society is the conse- 



quence of applying the idiot formulas 
of pure logic. 

The essential idiocy of pure logic 
is expressed in the familiar "I’ve got 
as much right to my opinion as you 
have to yours!” That is a logically 
undecidable proposition. William of 
Occam, long ago, proposed what is 
known as "Occam’s Razor,” because 
there is no logical means for dis- 
tinguishing values. In essence, "Of 
two logically self-consistent systems, 
each of which concerns the same set 
of data, pick the simpler.” 

The experimental fact — and ex- 
periments, remember, are not logic; 
they’re pragmatic — is that I do not 
have as much right to my opinion as 
you have to yours — if yours works 
and mine doesn’t! But that is 
not a logical method of distinguish- 
ing! 

II. There isn’t room for a full 
probability-analysis of this mecha- 
nism; the following highly skeleton- 
ized brief of it will, however, allow 
you to develop the concept yourself. 
And this skeleton needs a lot of 
fleshing out; agreed in full! 

First, consider a jury made up of 
n individuals, each of whom guesses 
right eighty per cent of the time, on 
problems presented to him. If we 
take a majority vote of the jury, the 
Group will guess right one hundred 
per cent of the time. Simple mathe- 
matics makes that inescapably neces- 
sary. And this does not depend on any 
trick definition of ’’right,” either; use 
the same definition of "right” for 
evaluating the guesses of the indi- 
( Continued on page 160) 



POLITICAL SCIENCE 



7 




MINISTRY « 

Y* 

BY H. BEAM PIPER 



3 



Illustrated by van Dongen 
ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 




* 0 F DISTURBANCE 



Sometimes getting a job is harder than 
the job after you get it — and sometimes 
getting out of a job is harder than either ! 



MINISTRY OF DISTURBANCE 





HE symphony was end- 
ing, the final trium- 
phant paean soaring up 
and up, beyond the 
limit of audibility. For 
a moment, after the last notes had 
gone away, Paul sat motionless, as 
though some part of him had follow- 
ed. Then he roused himself and 
finished his coffee and cigarette, look- 
ing out the wide window across the 
city below — treetops and towers, 
roofs and domes and arching sky- 
ways, busy swarms of aircars glinting 
in the early sunlight. Not many people 
cared for Joao Coelho’s music, now, 
and least of all for the Eighth Sym- 
phony. It was the music of another 
time, a thousand years ago, when the 
Empire was blazing into being out of 
the long night and hammering back 
the Neobarbarians from world after 
world. Today people found it per- 
turbing. 

He smiled faintly at the vacant 
chair opposite him, and lit another 
cigarette before putting the breakfast 
dishes on the serving-robot’s tray, 
and, after a while, realized that the 
robot was still beside his chair, wait- 
ing for dismissal. He gave it an in- 
struction to summon the cleaning 
robots and sent it away. He could as 
easily have summoned them himself, 
or let the guards who would be in 
checking the room do it for him, but 
maybe it .made a robot feel trusted 
and important to relay orders to other 
robots. 

Then he smiled again, this time in 
self-derision. A robot couldn’t feel 
important, or anything else. A robot 



If 



10 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 



was nothing but steel and plastic and 
magnetized tape and photo-micro- 
positronic circuits, whereas a man — 
His Imperial Majesty Paul XXII, for 
instance — was nothing but tissues and 
cells and colloids and electro-neuronic 
circuits. There-was a difference; any- 
body knew that. The trouble was that 
he had never met anybody — which 
included physicists, biologists, psy- 
chologists, psionicists, philosophers 
and theologians — who could define 
the difference in satisfactorily exact 
terms. He watched the robot pivot on 
its treads and glide away, trailing 
steam from its coffee pot. It might be 
silly to treat robots like people, but 
that wasn’t as bad as treating people 
like robots, an attitude which was be- 
coming entirely too prevalent. If only 
so many people didn’t act like robots ! 

He crossed to the elevator and 
stood in front of it until a tiny electro- 
encephalograph inside recognized his 
distinctive brain-wave pattern. Across 
the room, another door was popping 
open in response to the robot’s dis- 
tinctive wave pattern. He stepped 
inside and flipped a switch — there 
were still a few things around that 
had to be manually operated — and 
the door closed behind him and the 
elevator gave him an instant’s weight- 
lessness as it started to drop forty 
floors. 

When it opened, Captain-General 
Dorflay of the Household Guard was 
waiting for him, with a captain and 
ten privates. General Dorflay was 
human. The captain and his ten sol- 
diers weren’t. They wore helmets, 
emblazoned with the golden sun and 

MINISTRY OF DISTURBANCE 



superimposed black cogwheel of the 
Empire, and red kilts and black ankle 
boots and weapons belts, and the 
captain had a narrow gold-laced cape 
over his shoulders, but for the rest, 
their bodies were covered with a stiff 
mat of black hair, and their faces were 
slightly like terriers’. (For all his 
humanity, Captain-General Dorflay’s 
face was more like a bulldog’s.) 
They were hillmen from the southern 
hemisphere of Thor, and as a people 
they made excellent mercenaries. 
They were crack shots, brave and 
crafty fighters, totally uninterested in 
politics off their own planet, and, be- 
cause they had grown up in a patri- 
archial-clan society, they were fa- 
natically loyal to anybody whom they 
accepted as their chieftain. Paul step- 
ped out and gave them an inclusive 
nod. 

"Good morning, gentlemen." 

"Good morning, Your Imperial 
Majesty,” General Dorflay said, bow- 
ing the couple of inches consistent 
with military dignity. The Thoran 
captain saluted by touching his fore- 
head, his heart, which, was on the 
right side, and the butt of his pistol. 
Paul complimented him on the smart 
appearance of his detail, and the cap- 
tain asked how it could be otherwise, 
with the example and inspiration of 
his imperial majesty. Compliment and 
response could have been a playback 
from every morning of the ten years 
of his reign. So could Dorflay’s 
question: "Your Majesty will proceed 
to his study?” 

He wanted to say, “No, to Niffel- 

11 



heim with it; let’s get an aircar and 
fly a million miles somewhere,” and 
watch the look of shocked incom- 
prehension on the captain-general’s 
face. He couldn’t do that, though; 
poor old Harv Dorflay might have a 
heart attack. He nodded slowly. 

"If you please, general.” 

Dorflay nodded to the Thoran cap- 
tain, who nodded to his men. Four 
of them took two paces forward; the 
rest, unslinging weapons, went scurry- 
ing up the corridor, some posting 
themselves along the way and the 
rest continuing to the main hallway. 
The captain and two of his men 
started forward slowly; after they had 
gone twenty feet, Paul and General 
Dorflay fell in behind them, and the 
other two brought up the rear. 

"Your Majesty,” Dorflay said, in a 
low voice, "let me beg you to be most 
cautious. I have just discovered that 
there exists a treasonous plot against 
your life.” 

Paul nodded. Dorflay was more 
than due to discover another treason- 
ous plot; it had been ten days since 
the last one. 

"I believe you mentioned it, gen- 
eral. Something about planting loose 
strontium-90 in the upholstery of the 
Audience Throne, wasn’t it?” 

And before that, somebody had 
been trying to smuggle a fission bomb 
into the Palace in a wine cask, and 
before that, it was a booby trap in 
the elevator, and before that, some- 
body was planning to build a sub- 
machine gun into the viewscreen in 
the study, and — 

"Oh, no, Your Majesty; that was — 

12 



Well, the persons involved in that 
plot became alarmed and fled the 
planet before I could arrest them. 
This is something different, Your 
Majesty. I have learned that un- 
authorized alterations have been made 
on one of the cooking-robots in your 
private kitchen, and I am positive 
that the object is to poison Your 
Majesty.” 

They were turning into the main 
hallway, between the rows of portraits 
of past emperors, Paul and Rodrik, 
Paul and Rodrik, alternating over and 
over on both walls. He felt a smile 
growing on his face, and banished it. 

"The robot for the meat sauces, 
wasn’t it?” he asked. 

"Why — ! Yes, Your Majesty.” 

"I’m sorry, general. I should have 
warned you. Those alterations were 
made by roboticists from the Ministry 
of Security; they were installing an 
adaptation of a device used in the 
criminalistics-labs, to insure more uni- 
form measurements. They’d done that 
already for Prince Travann, the 
Minister, and he’d recommended it 
to me.” 

That was a shame, spoiling poor 
Harv Dorflay’s murder plot. It had 
been such a nice little plot, too; he 
must have had a lot of fun inventing 
it. But a line had to be drawn some- 
where. Let him turn the Palace upside 
down hunting for bombs; harass 
ladies-in-waiting whose lovers he sus- 
pected of being hired assassins; hound 
musicians into whose instalments he 

t 

imagined firearms had been built; the 
emperor’s private kitchen would have 
to be off limits. 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 



Dorflay, who should have been 
looking crestfallen but relieved, stop- 
ped short — shocking breach of Court 
etiquette — and was staring in horror. 

"Your Majesty! Prince Travann 
did that openly and with your con- 
sent? But, Your Majesty, I am con- 
vinced that it is Prince Travann him- 
self who is the instigator of every 
one of these diabolical schemes. In 
the case of the elevator, I became 
suspicious of a man named Samml 
Ganner, one of Prince Travann’ s se- 
cret police agents. In the case of the 
gun in the viewscreen, it was a techni- 
cian whose sister is a member of the 
household of Countess Yirzy, Prince 
Travann’s mistress. In the case of the 
fission bomb — ” 

The two Thorans and their captain 
had kept on for some distance before 
they had discovered that they were 
no longer being followed, and were 
returning. He put his hand on Gen- 
eral Dorflay’s shoulder and urged him 
forward. 

"Have you mentioned this to any- 
body?” 

"Not a word, Your Majesty. This 
Court is so full of treachery that I 
can trust no one, and we must never 
warn the villain that he is suspect- 
ed — ” 

"Good. Say nothing to anybody.” 
They had reached the door of the 
study, now. "I think I'll be here until 
noon. If I leave earlier, I’ll flash you 
a signal.” 

He entered the big oval room, 
lighted from overhead by the great 
star-map in the ceiling, and crossed 

MINISTRY OF DISTURBANCE 



to his desk, with the viewscreens and 
reading screens and communications 
screens around it, and as he sat down, 
he cursed angrily, first at Harv Dor- 
flay and then, after a moment’s re- 
flection, at himself. He was the one 
to blame; he’d known Dorflay’s para- 
noid condition for years. Have to do 
something about it. Any psycho-medic 
would certify him; be no problem at 
all to have him put away. But be 
blasted if he’d do that. That was no 
way to repay loyalty, even insane 
loyalty. Well, he'd find a way. 

He lit a cigarette and leaned back, 
looking up at the glowing swirl of 
billions of billions of tiny lights in 
the ceiling. At least, there were sup- 
posed to be billions of billions of 
them; he’d never counted them, and 
neither had any of the seventeen 
Rodriks and sixteen Pauls before him 
who had sat under them. His hand 
moved to a control button on his 
chair arm, and a red patch, roughly 
the shape of a pork chop, appeared 
on the western side. 

That was the Empire. Every one 
of the thousand three hundred and 
sixty-five inhabited -worlds, a trillion 
and a half intelligent beings, four- 
teen races — fifteen if you counted the 
Zarathustran Fuzzies, who were al- 
most able to qualify under the talk- 
and-build-a-fire rule. And that had 
been the Empire when Rodrik VI 
had seen the map completed, and 
when Paul II had built the Palace, 
and when Stevan IV, the grandfather 
of Paul I, had proclaimed Odin the 
Imperial planet and Asgard the 
capital city. There had been some ex- 

13 



cuse for staying inside that patch of 
stars then; a newly won Empire must 
be consolidated within before it can 
safely be expanded. But that had been 
over eight centuries ago. 

He looked at the Daily Schedule, 
beautifully embossed and neatly slip- 
ped under his desk glass. Luncheon 
on the South Upper Terrace, with the 
Prime Minister and the Bench of Im- 
perial Counselors. Yes, it was time 
for that again; that happened as 
inevitably and regularly as Harv Dor- 
flay’s murder plots. And in the after- 
noon, a Plenary Session, Cabinet and 
Counselors. Was he going to have to 
endure the Bench of Counselors twice 
in the same day? Then the vexation 
was washed out of his face by a 
spreading grin. Bench of Counselors; 
that was the answer! Elevate Harv 
Dorflay to the Bench. That was what 
the Bench was for, a gold-plated dust- 
bin for the disposal of superannuated 
dignitaries. He’d do no harm there, 
and a touch of outright lunacy might 
enliven and even improve the 
Bench. 

And in the evening, a banquet, 
and a reception and ball, in honor of 
His Majesty Ranulf XIV, Planetary 
King of Durendal, and First Citizen 
Zhorzh Yaggo, People’s Manager-in- 
Chief of and for the Planetary Com- 
monwealth of Aditya. Bargain day; 
two planetary chiefs of state in one 
big combination deal. He wondered 
what sort- of prizes he had drawn this 
time, and closed his eyes, trying to 
remember. Durendal, of course, was 
one of the Sword-Worlds, settled by 
refugees from the losing side of the 

14 



System States War in the time of the 
old Terran Federation, who had re- 
appeared in Galactic history a few 
centuries later as the Space Vikings. 
They all had monarchial and rather 
picturesque governments; Durendal, 
he seemed to recall, was a sort of 
quasi-feudalism. About Aditya he was 
less sure. Something unpleasant, he 
thought; the titles of the government 
and its head were suggestive. 

He lit another cigarette and snap- 
ped on the reading screen to see what 
they had piled onto him this morn- 
ing, and then swore when a graph 
chart, with jiggling red and blue and 
green lines, appeared. Chart day, too. 
Everything happens at once. 

It was the interstellar trade situation 
chart from Economics. Red line for 
production, green line for exports, 
blue for imports, sectioned vertically 
for the ten Viceroyalties and sub- 
sectioned for the Prefectures, and 
with the magnification and focus con- 
trols he could even get data for 
individual planets. He didn’t bother 
with that, and wondered why he 
bothered with the charts at all. The 
stuff was all at least twenty days be- 
hind date, and not uniformly so, 
which accounted for much of the 
jiggling. It had been transmitted from 
Planetary Proconsulate to Prefecture,, 
and from Prefecture to Viceroyalty, 
and from there to Odin, all by ship. 
A ship on hyperdrive could log light- 
years an hour, but radio waves still 
had to travel 186,000 mps. The sup- 
plementary chart for the past five 
centuries told the real story — three 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 



perfectly level and perfectly parallel 
lines. 

It was the same on all the other 
charts. Population fluctuating slightly 
at the moment, completely static for 
the past five centuries. A slight de- 
crease in agriculture, matched by an 
increase in synthetic food production. 
A slight population movement toward 
the more urban planets and the more 
densely populated centers. A trend 
downward in employment - — non- 
working population increasing by 
about .0001 per cent annually. Not 
that they were building better robots; 
they were just building them faster 
than they wore out. They all told the 
same story - — - a stable economy, a 
static population, a peaceful and un- 
disturbed Empire; eight centuries, 
five at least, of historyless tranquility. 
Well, that was what everybody want- 
ed, wasn’t it? 

He flipped through the rest of the 
charts, and began getting summarized 
Ministry reports. Economics had de- 
nied a request from the Mining Cartel 
to ^authorize operations on a couple of 
uninhabited planets; danger of local 
market gluts and overstimulation of 
manufacturing. Permission granted to 
Robotics Cartel to — Request from 
planetary government of Durendal for 
increase of cereal export quotas under 
consideration — they wouldn’t want to 
turn that down while King Ranulf 
was here. Impulsively, he punched out 
a combination on the communication 
screen and got Count Duklass, Minis- 
ter of Economics. 

Count Duklass had thinning red 
hair and a plump, agreeable, extro- 



vert’s face. He smiled and waited to 
be addressed. 

"Sorry to bother Your Lordship,” 
Paul greeted him. "What’s the story 
on this export quota request from 
Durendal? We have their king here, 
now. Think he’s come to lobby for 
it?” 

Count Duklass chuckled. "He’s not 
doing anything about it, himself. 
Have you met him yet, sir?” 

"Not yet. He’s to be presented this 
evening.” 

"Well, when you see him — I think 
the masculine pronoun is permissible 
—you’ll see what I mean, sir. It’s this 
Lord Koreff, the Marshal. He came 
here on business, and had to bring 
the king along, for fear somebody' 
else would grab him while he was 
gone. The whole object of Durendali- 
an politics, as I understand, is to get 
possession of the person of the king. 
Koreff was on my screen for half an 
hour; I just got rid of him. Planet's 
pretty heavily agricultural, they had 
a couple of very good crop years in a 
row, and now they have grain running 
out their ears, and they want to ex- 
port it and cash in.” 

"Well?” 

"Can’t let them do it, Your 
Majesty. They’re not suffering any 
hardship; they’re just not making as 
much money as they think they ought 
to. If they start dumping their sur- 
plus into interstellar trade, they’ll 
cause all kinds of dislocations on 
other agricultural planets. At least, 
that’s what our computers all say.” 

And that, of course, was gospel. 
He nodded 



MINISTRY OF DISTURBANCE 



15 



"Why don’t they turn their surplus 
into whisky? Age it five or six years 
and it’d be on the luxury goods 
schedule and they could sell it any- 
where.’’ 

Count Duklass’ eyes widened. "I 
never thought of that, Your Majesty. 
Just a microsec; I want to make a note 
of that. Pass it down to somebody 
who could deal with it. That’s a won- 
derful idea, Your Majesty!” 

He finally got the conversation to 
an end, and went back to the reports. 
Security, as- usual, had a few items 
above the dead level of bureaucratic 
procedure. The planetary king of Ex- 
calibur had been assassinated by his 
brother and two nephews, all three of 
whom were now fighting among 
themselves. As nobody had anything 
to fight with except small arms and 
a few light cannon, there would be 
no intervention. There had been inter- 
vention on Behemoth, however, 
where a whole continent had tried to 
secede from the planetary republic 
and the Imperial Navy had been re- 
quested to send a task force. That 
was all right, in both cases. No inter- 
ference with anything that passed for 
a planetary government, but only one 
sovereignty on any planet with nucle- 
ar weapons, and only one supreme 
sovereignty in a galaxy with hyper- 
drive ships. 

And there was rioting on Amater- 
asu, because of public indignation 
over a fraudulent election. He looked 
at that in incredulous delight. Why, 
here on Odin there hadn’t been an 
election in the past six centuries that 

16 



hadn’t been utterly fraudulent. No- 
body voted except the nonworkers, 
whose votes were bought and sold 
wholesale, by gangster bosses to pres- 
sure groups, and no decent person 
would be caught within a hundred 
yards of a polling place on an election 
day. He called the Minister of Se- 
curity. 

Prince Travann was a man of his 
own age — they had been classmates 
at the University — but he looked old- 
er. His thin face was lined, and his 
hair was almost completely white. He 
was at his desk, with the Sun and 
Cogwheel of the Empire on the wall 
behind him, but on the breast of his 
black tunic he wore the badge of his 
family, a silver planet with three sil- 
ver moons. Unlike Count Duklass, he 
didn’t wait to be spoken to. 

"Good morning. Your Majesty.” 

"Good morning, Your Highness; 
sorry to bother you. I just caught an 
interesting item in your report. This 
business on Amaterasu. What sort of 
a planet is it, politically? I don’t 
seem to recall.” 

"Why, they have a republican 
government, sir; a very complicated 
setup. Really, it’s a junk heap. When 
anything goes badly, they always 
build something new into the govern- 
ment, but they never abolish any- 
thing. They have a president, a 
premier, and an executive cabinet, 
and a tricameral legislature, and two 
complete and distinct judiciaries. The 
premier is always the presidential 
candidate getting the next highest 
number of votes. In the present in- 
stance, the president, who controls 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 



the planetary militia, is accusing the 
premier, who controls the police, of 
fraud in the election of the middle 
house of the legislature. Each is sup- 
ported by the judiciary he controls. 
Practically every citizen belongs either 
to the militia or the police auxiliaries. 
I am looking forward to further re- 
ports from Amaterasu,” he added 
dryly. 

"I daresay they’ll be interesting. 
Send them to me in full, and red- 
star them, if you please. Prince Tra- 
vann.” 

He went back to the reports. The 
Ministry of Science and Technology 
had sent up a lengthy one. The only 
trouble with it was that everything 
reported was duplication of work that 
had be'en done centuries before. Well, 
no. A Dr. Dandrik, of the physics 
department of the Imperial University 
here in Asgard announced that a defi- 
nite limit of accuracy in measuring 
the velocity of accelerated subnucle- 
onic particles had been established — 
16.067543333 - — times light-speed. 
That seemed to be typical; the fron- 
tiers of science, now, were all decimal 
points. The Ministry of Education 
had a little to offer; historical scholar- 
ship was still active, at least. He was 
reading about a new trove of source- 
material that had come to light on 
Uller, from the Sixth Century Atomic 
Era, when the door screen buzzed 
and flashed. 

He lit it, and his son Rodrik ap- 
peared in it, with Snooks, the little 
red hound, squirming excitedly in 
the Crown Prince’s arms. The dog 



began barking at once, and the boy 
called through the phone: 

“Good morning, father; are you 
busy?’’ 

“Oh, not at all.” He pressed the 
release button. “Come on in.” 

Immediately, the little hound leap- 
ed out of the princely arms and came 
dashing into the study and around 
the desk, jumping onto his lap. The 
boy followed more slowly, sitting 
down in the deskside chair and draw- 
ing his foot up under him. Paul 
greeted Snooks first — people can wait, 
but for little dogs everything has to 
be right now — and rummaged in a 
drawer until he found some wafers, 
holding one for Snooks to nibble. 
Then he became aware that his .son 
was wearing leather shorts and tall 
buskins. 

"Going out somewhere?” he asked, 
a trifle enviously. 

“Up in the mountains, for a pic- 
nic. Olva’s going along.” 

And his tutor, and his esquire, and 
Olva’s companion-lady, and a dozen 
Thoran riflemen, of course, and 
they’d be in continuous screen-contact 
with the Palace. 

"That ought to be a lot of fun. Did 
you get all your lessons done?” 
“Physics and math and galactiog- 
raphy,” Rodrik told him. “And Pro- 
fessor Guilsan’s going to give me and 
Olva our history after lunch.” 

They talked about lessons, and 
about the picnic. Of course, Snooks 
was going on the picnic, too. It was 
evident, though, that Rodrik had 
something else on his mind. After a 
while, he came out with it. 



MINISTRY OF DISTURBANCE 



17 



"Father, you know I’ve been a little 
afraid, lately,” he said. 

"Well, tell me about it, son. It 
isn’t anything about you and Olva, 
is it?” 

Rod was fourteen; the little Prin- 
cess Olva thirteen. They would be 
marriageable in six years. As far as 
anybody could tell, they were both 
quite happy about the marriage which 
had been arranged for them years 
ago. 

"Oh, no; nothing like that. But 
Olva’s sister and a couple others of 
mother’s ladies-in-waiting were to a 
psi-medium, and the medium told 
them that there were going to be 
changes. Great and frightening 
changes was what she said.” 

"She didn’t specify?” 

"No. Just that: great and frighten- 
ing changes. But the only change of 
that kind I can think of would be . . . 
well, something happening to you.” 
Snooks, having eaten three wafers, 
was trying to lick his ear. He pushed 
the little dog back into his lap and 
pummeled him gently with his left 
hand. 

"You mustn’t let mediums’ gabble 
worry you, son. These psi-mediums 
have real powers, but they can’t turn 
them off and on like a water tap. 
When they don’t get anything, they 
don’t like to admit it, and they in- 
vent things. Always generalities like 
that; never anything specific.” 

"I know all that.” The boy seemed 
offended, as though somebody were 
explaining that his mother hadn’t 
really found him out in the rose gar- 
den. "But they talked about- it to some 



of their friends, and it seems that 
other mediums are saying the same 
thing. Father, do you remember when 
the Haval Valley reactor blew up ? All 
over Odin, the mediums had been 
talking about a terrible accident, for 
a month before that happened.” 

"I remember that.” Harv Dorflay 
believed that somebody had been 
falsely informed that the emperor 
would visit the plant that day. "These 
great and frightening changes will 
probably turn out to be a new fad in 
abstract sculpture. Any change fright- 
ens most people.” 

They talked more about mediums, 
and then about aircars and aircar rac- 
ing, and about the Emperor’s Cup 
race that was to be flown in a month. 
The communications screen began 
flashing and buzzing, and after he 
had silenced it with the busy-button 
for the third time, Rodrik said that 
it was time for him to go, came 
around to gather up Snooks, and went 
out, saying that he’d be home in time 
for the banquet. The screen began to' 
flash again as he went out. 

It was Prince Ganzay, the Prime 
Minister. He looked as though he had 
a persistent low-level toothache, but 
that was his ordinary expression. 

"Sorry to bother Your Majesty. 
It’s about these chiefs-of-state. Count 
Gadvan, the Chamberlain, appealed 
to me, and I feel I should ask your 
advice. It’s the matter of precedence.” 

"Well, we have a fixed rule on 
that. Which one arrived first?” 

"Why, the Adityan, but it seems 
King Ranulf insists that he’s entitled 



1.8 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 




to precedence, or, rather, his Lord 
Marshal does. This Lord Koreff in- 
sists that his king is not going to 
yield precedence to a commoner.” 
"Then he can go home to Duren- 
dal!” He felt himself growing angry 
— all the little angers of the morning 
were focusing on one spot. He forced 
the harshness out of his voice. "At a 
court function, somebody has to go 
first, and our rule is order of arrival 
at the Palace. That rule was establish- 
ed to avoid violating the principle of 
equality to all civilized peoples and 
all planetary governments. We’re not 
going to set it aside for the King of 
Durendal, or anybody else.” 

MINISTRY OF DISTURBANCE 



Prince Ganzay nodded. Some of 
the toothache expression had gone out 
of his face, now that he had been 
relieved of the decision. 

"Of course, Your Majesty.” He 
brightened a little. "Do you think we 
might compromise? Alternate the 
precedence, I mean?” 

"Only if this First Citizen Yaggo 
consents. If he does, it would be a 
good idea.” 

"I’ll talk to him, sir.” The tooth- 
ache expression came back. "Another 
thing, Your Majesty. They’ve both 
been invited to attend the Plenary 
Session, this afternoon.” 

"Well, no trouble there; they can 

19 



enter by different doors and sit in 
visitors’ boxes at opposite ends of the 
hall.” 

"Well, sir, I wasn’t thinking of 
precedence. But this is to be an 
Elective Session — new Ministers to 
replace Prince Havaly, of Defense, 
deceased, and Count Frask, of Science 
and Technology, elevated to the 
Bench. There seems to be some dif- 
ference of opinion among some of 
the Ministers and Counselors. It’s 
very possible that the Session may 
degenerate into an outright contro- 
versy.” 

"Horrible,” Paul said seriously. "I 
think, though, that our distinguished 
guests will see that the Empire can 
survive difference of opinion, and 
even outright controversy. But if you 
think it might have a bad effect, why 
not postpone the election?” 

"Well — It’s been postponed three 
times, already, sir.” 

"Postpone it permanently. Adver- 
tise for bids on two robot Ministers, 
Defense, and Science and Technolo- 
gy. If they’re a success, we can set 
up a project to design a robot em- 
peror.” 

The Prime Minister’s face actually 
twitched and blanched at the blas- 
phemy. "Your Majesty is joking,” 
he said, as though he wanted to be 
reassured on the point. 

"Unfortunately, I am. If my job 
could be robotized, maybe I could 
take my wife and my son and our 
little dog and go fishing for a while.” 

But, of course, he couldn’t. There 
were only two alternatives: the Em- 
pire or Galactic anarchy. The galaxy 



was too big to hold general elections, 
and there had to be a supreme ruler, 
and a positive and automatic — which 
meant hereditary — means' of succes- 
sion. 

"Whose opinion seems to differ 
from whose, and about what?” he 
asked. 

"Well, Count Duklass and Count 
Tammsan want- to have the Ministry 
of Science and Technology abolished, 
and its functions and personnel dis- 
tributed. Count Duklass means to 
take over the technological sections 
under Economics, and Count Tamm- 
san will take over the science part 
under Education. The proposal is 
going to be introduced at this Session 
by Count Guilfred, the Minister of 
Health and Sanity. He hopes to get 
some of the bio- and psycho'-science 
sections for his own Ministry.” 

"That’s right. Duklass gets the 
hide, Tammsan gets the head and 
horns, and everybody who hunts with 
them gets a cut of the meat. That’s 
good sound law of the chase. I’m not 
in favor of it, myself. Prince Ganzay 
at this session, I wish you’d get 
Captain-General Dorflay nominated 
for the Bench. I feel that it is about 
time to honor him with elevation.” 

“General Dorflay? But why, Your 
Majesty?” 

"Great galaxy, do you have to ask? 
Why, because the man’s a raving 
lunatic. He oughtn’t even to be trust- 
ed with a sidearm, let alone five 
companies of armed soldiers. Do you 
know what he told me this morning?” 

"That somebody is training a Nid- 
hog swamp-crawler to crawl up the 



20 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 



Octagon Tower and bite you at break- 
fast, I suppose. But hasn’t that been 
going on for quite a while, sir?” 

"It was a gimmick in one of the 
cooking robots, but that’s aside from 
the question. He’s finally named the 
master mind behind all these night- 
mares of his, and who do you think 
it is? Yorn Travann!” 

The Prime Minister’s face grew 
graver than usual. Well, it was some- 
thing to look grave about; some of 
these days— 

"Your Majesty, I couldn’t possibly 
agree more about the general’s men- 
tal condition, but I really should say 
that, crazy or not, he is not alone in 
his suspicions of Prince Travann. If 
sharing them makes me a lunatic, too, 
so be it, but share them I do.” 

Paul felt his eyebrows lift in sur- 
prise. "That’s quite too much and 
too little, Prince Ganzay,” he said. 

"With your permission, I’ll elabo- 
rate. Don't think that I suspect Prince 
Travann of any childish pranks with 
elevators or viewscreens or cooking- 
robots,” the Prime Minister hastened 
to disclaim, "but I definitely do sus- 
pect him of treasonous ambitions. I 
suppose Your Majesty knows that he 
is the first Minister of Security in 
centuries who has assumed personal 
control of both the planetary and 
municipal police, instead of delegat- 
ing his ex officio powers. 

“Your Majesty may not know, 
however, of some of the peculiar uses 
he has been making of those authori- 
ties. Does Your Majesty know that he 
has recruited the Security Guard up to 

MINISTRY OF DISTURBANCE 



at least ten times the strength needed 
to meet any conceivable peace-main- 
tenance problem on this planet, and 
that he has been piling up huge 
quantities of heavy combat equipment 
— guns up to 200-millimeter, heavy 
contragravity, even gun-cutters and 
bomb-and-rocket boats? And does 
Your Majesty know that most of this 
armament is massed within fifteen 
minutes’ flight-time of this Palace? 
Or that Prince Travann has at his 
disposal from two and a half to three 
times, in men and firepower, the 
combined strength of the Planetary 
Militia and the Imperial Army on 
this planet?” 

"I know. It has my approval. He’s 
trying to salvage some of the young 
nonworkers through exposing them 
to military discipline. A good many 
of them, I believe, have gone off- 
planet on their discharge from the 
SG and hired as mercenaries, which 
is a far better profession than vote- 
selling.” 

"Quite a plausible explanation; 
Prince Travann is nothing if not 
plausible,” the Prime Minister agreed. 
"And does Your Majesty know that, 
because of repeated demands for sup- 
port from the Ministry of Security, 
the Imperial Navy has been scattered 
all over the Empire, and that there 
is not a naval craft bigger than a 
scout-boat within fifteen hundred 
light-years of Odin?” 

That was absolutely true.- Paul 
could only nod agreement. Prince 
Ganzay continued: 

"He has been doing some peculiar 
things as Police Chief of Asgard, too. 

21 



For instance, there are two powerful 
nonworkers’ voting-bloc bosses, Big 
Moogie Blisko and Zikko the Nose — 

I assure Your Majesty that I am not 
inventing these names; that’s what 
the persons are actually called — who 
have been enjoying the favor and 
support of Prince Travann. On a 
number of occasions, their smaller 
rivals, leaders of less important 
gangs, have been arrested, often on 
trumped-up charges, and held in- 
communicado until either Moogie or 
Zikko could move into their terri- 
tories and annex their nonworker 
followers. These two bloc-bosses are 
subsidized, respectively, by the Steel 
and Shipbuilding Cartels and by the 
Reaction Products and Chemical Car- 
tels, but actually, they are controlled 
by Prince Travann. They, in turn, 
control between them about seventy 
per cent of the nonworkers in As- 
gard.” 

"And you think this adds up to a 
plot against the Throne?” 

“A plot to seize the Throne, Your 
Majesty.” 

"Oh, come. Prince Ganzay! You’re 
talking like Dorflay!” 

"Hear me out, Your Majesty. His 
Imperial Highness is fourteen years 
old; it will be eleven years before he 
will be legally able to assume the 
powers of emperor. In the dreadful 
event of your immediate death, it 
would mean a regency for that long. 
Of course, your Ministers and Coun- 
selors would be the ones to name the 
Regent, but I know how they would 
vote with Security Guard bayonets at 
their throats. And regency might not 

22 



be the limit of Prince Travann’s am- 
bitions.” 

"In your own words, quite plausi- 
ble, Prince Ganzay. It rests, however, 
on a very questionable foundation. 
The assumption that Prince Travann 
is stupid enough to want the Throne.” 

He had to terminate the conversa- 
tion himself and blank the screen. 
Viktor Ganzay was still staring at him 
in shocked incredulity when his 
image vanished. Viktor Ganzay could 
not imagine anybody not wanting the 
Throne, not even the man who had 
to sit on it. 

He sat, for a while, looking at the 
darkened screen, a little worried. 
Viktor Ganzay had a much better 
intelligence service than he had be- 
lieved. He wondered how much Gan- 
zay had found out that he hadn’t 
mentioned. Then he went back to the 
reports. He had gotten down to the 
Ministry of Fine Arts when the com- 
munications screen began calling at- 
tion to itself again. 

When he flipped the switch, a 
woman smiled out of it at him. Her 
blond hair was rumpled, and she 
wore a dressing gown; her smile 
brightened as his face appeared in 
her screen. 

"Hi !” she greeted him. 

"Hi, yourself. You just get up?” 

She raised a hand to cover a yawn. 
"I’ll bet you’ve been up reigning for 
hours. Were Rod and Snooks in to 
see you yet?” 

He nodded. "They just left. Rod’s 
going on a picnic with Olva in the 
mountains.” How long had it been 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 



since he and Marris had been on a 
picnic — a real picnic, with less than 
fifty guards and as many courtiers 
along? "Do you have much reigning 
to do, this afternoon?’’ 

She grimaced. "Flower Festivals. I 
have to make personal tri-di appear- 
ances, live, with messages for the 
loving subjects. Three minutes on, 
and a two-minute break between. I 
have forty for this afternoon.’’ 
"Ugh! Well, have a good time, 
sweetheart. All I have is lunch with 
the Bench, and then this Plenary Ses- 
sion.” He told her about Ganzay’s 
fear of outright controversy. 

"Oh, fun ! Maybe somebody’ll pull 
somebody’s whiskers, or something. 
I’m in on that, too.” 

The call-indicator in front of him 
began glowing with the code-symbol 
of the Minister of Security. 

"We can always hope, can’t we? 
Well, Yorn Travann’s trying to get 
me, now.” 

"Don’t keep him waiting. Maybe 
I can see you before the Session. She 
made a kissing motion with her lips 
at him, and blanked the screen. 

He flipped the switch again, and 
Prince Travann was on the screen. 
The Security Minister didn’t waste 
time being sorry to bother him. 

"Your Majesty, a report’s just 
come in that there’s a serious riot at 
the University; between five and 
ten thousand students are attacking 
the Administration Center, lobbing 
stench bombs into it, and threatening 
to hang Chancellor Khane. They have 
already overwhelmed and disarmed 
the-campus police, and I’ve sent two 

MINISTRY OF DISTURBANCE 



companies of the Gendarme riot bri- 
gade, under an officer I can trust to 
handle things firmly but intelligently.- 
We don’t want any indiscriminate 
stunning or tear-gassing or shooting; 
all sorts of people can haye sons and 
daughters mixed up in a student 
riot.” 

"Yes. I seem to recall student riots 
in which the sons of his late High- 
ness Prince Travann and his late 
Majesty Rodrik XXI were involved.” 
He deliberated the point for a mo- 
ment, and added: "This scarcely 
sounds like a frat-fight or a panty-raid, 
though. What seems to have triggered 
it?” 

"The story I got — a rather hysteri- 
cal call for help from Khane himself 
— is that they’re protesting an action 
of his in dismissing a faculty mem- 
ber. I have a couple of undercoveis 
at the University, and I’m trying to 
contact them. I sent more undercovers, - 
who could pass for students, ahead 
of the Gendarmes to get the student 
side of it and the names of the ring- 
leaders.” He glanced down at the 
indicator in front of him, which had 
begun to glow. "If you’ll pardon me, 
sir, Count Tammsan’s trying to get 
me. He may have particulars. I’ll call 
Your Majesty back when I learn any- 
thing more.” 

There hadn’t been anything like 
that at the University within the 
memory of the oldest old grad. 
Chancellor Khane, he knew, was a 
stupid and arrogant old windbag with 
a swollen sense of his own impor- 
tance. He made a small bet with him- 

23 



self that the whole thing was Khane’s 
fault, but he wondered what lay 
behind it, and what would come out 
of it. Great plagues from little mi- 
crobes start. Great and frightening 
changes — 

The screen got itself into an up- 
roar, and he flipped the switch. It 
was Viktor Ganzay again. He looked 
as though his permanent toothache 
had deserted him for the moment. 

“Sorry to bother Your Majesty, but 
it’s all fixed up,” he reported. "First 
Citizen Yaggo agreed to alternate in 
precedence with King Ranulf, and 
Lord Koreff has withdrawn all his 
objections. As far as I can see, at 
present, there should be no trouble.” 

“Fine. I suppose you heard about 
the excitement at the University?” 

“Oh,, yes, Your Majesty. Disgrace- 
ful affair!” 

"Simply shocking. What seems to 
have started it, have you heard?” he 
asked. "All I know is that the stu- 
dents were protesting the dismissal 
of a faculty member. He must have 
been exceptionally popular, or else he 
got a more than ordinary raw deal 
from Khane.” 

“Well, as to that, sir, I can’t say. 
All I learned was that it was the re- 
sult of some faculty squabble in one 
of the science departments; the 
grounds for the dismissal were in- 
subordination and contempt for au- 
thority.” 

“I always thought that when 
authority began inspiring contempt, 
it had stopped being authority. Did 
you say science? This isn’t going to 
help Duklass and Tammsan any.” 



"I’m afraid not, Your Majesty.” 
Ganzay didn’t look particularly re- 
gretful. "The News Cartel’s gotten 
hold of it and are using it; it’ll be all 
over the Empire.” 

He said- that as though it meant 
something. Well, maybe it did; a lot 
of Ministers and almost all the Coun- 
selors spent most of their time 
worrying about what people on plan- 
ets like Chermosh and Zarathustra 
and Deirdre and Quetzalcoatl might 
think, in ignorance of the fact that 
interest in Empire politics varied in- 
versely as the square of the distance 
to Odin and the level of corruption 
and inefficiency of the local govern- 
ment. 

"I notice you’ll be at the Bench 
luncheon. Do you think you could 
invite our guests, too? We could have 
an informal presentation before it 
starts. Can do? Good. I’ll be seeing 
you there.” 

When' the screen was blanked, he 
returned to the reports, ran them off 
hastily to make sure that nothing had 
been red-starred, and called a robot 
to clear the projector. After a while, 
Prince Travann called again. 

"Sorry to bother Your Majesty, but 
I have most of the facts on the riot, 
new. What happened was that 
Chancellor Khane sacked a professor, 
physics department, under circum- 
stances which aroused resentment 
among the science students. Some of 
them walked out of class and went to 
the stadium to hold a protest meeting, 
and the thing snowballed until half 
the students were in it. Khane lost 
his head and ordered the campus 



24 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 



police to clear the stadium; the stu- 
dents rushed them and swamped 
them. I hope, for their sakes, that 
none of my men ever let anything 
like that happen. The man I sent, a 
Colonel Handrosan, managed to talk 
the students into going back to the 
stadium and continuing the meeting 
under Gendarme protection.” 
"Sounds like a good man.” 

"Very good, Your Majesty. Espe- 
cially in handling disturbances. I have 
complete confidence in him. He’s also 
investigating the background of the 
affair. I’ll give Your Majesty what 
he’s learned, to date. It seems that 
the head of the physics department, a 
Professor Nelse Dandrik, had been 
conducting an experiment, assisted by 
a Professor Klenn Faress, to establish 
more accurately the velocity of sub- 
nucleonic particles, beta micropositos, 
I believe. Dandrik’s story, as relayed 
to Handrosan by Khane, is that he 
reached a limit and the apparatus be- 
gan giving erratic results.” 

Prince Travann stopped to light a 
cigarette. "At this point, Professor 
Dandrik ordered the experiment 
stopped, and Professor Faress insisted 
on continuing. When Dandrik order- 
ed the apparatus dismantled, Faress 
became rather emotional about it — ■ 
obscenely abusive and threatening, 
according to Dandrik, Dandrik com- 
plained to Khane, Khane ordered 
Faress to apologize, Faress refused, 
and Khane dismissed Faress. Immedi- 
ately, the students went on strike. 
Faress confirmed the whole story, and 
he added one small detail that Dan- 
drik hadn’t seen fit to mention. Ac- 

MINISTRY OF DISTURBANCE 



cording to him, when these micro- 
positos were accelerated beyond six- 
teen and a fraction times light-speed, 
they began registering at the target 
before the source registered the emis- 
sion.” 

"Yes, I — What did you say?” 

Prince Travann repeated it slowly, 
distinctly and tonelessly. 

"That was what I thought you said. 
Well, I’m going to insist on a com- 
plete investigation, including a repe- 
tition of the experiment. Under 
direction of Professor Faress.” 

"Yes, Your Majesty. And when 
that happens, I mean to be on hand 
personally. If somebody is just before 
discovering time-travel, I think Se- 
curity has a very substantial interest 
in it.” 

The Prime Minister called back to 
confirm that First Citizen Yaggo and 
King Ranulf would be at the lunch- 
eon. The Chamberlain, Count Gad- 
van, called with a long and dreary 
problem about the protocol for the 
banquet. Finally, at noon, he flashed 
a signal for General Dorflay, waited 
five minutes, and then left his desk 
and went out, to find the mad general 
and his wirehaired soldiers drawn up 
in the hall. 

There were more Thorans on the 
South Upper Terrace, and after a 
flurry of porting and presenting and 
ordering arms and hand-saluting, the 
Prime Minister advanced and escorted 
him to where the Bench of Counse- 
lors, all thirty of them, total age close 
to twenty-eight hundred years, were 
drawn up in a rough crescent behind 

25 



the three distinguished guests. The 
King of Durendal wore a cloth-of- 
silver leotard and pink tights, and a 
belt of gold links on which he car- 
ried a jeweled dagger only slightly 
thicker than a knitting needle. He 
was slender and willowy, and he had 
large and soulful eyes, and the royal 
beautician must have worked on him 
for a couple of hours. Wait till Mar- 
ris sees this; oh, brother! 

Koreff, the Lord Marshal, wore 
what was probably the standard cos- 
tume of Durendal, a fairly long jerkin 
with short sleeves, and knee-boots, 
and his dress dagger looked as though 
it had been designed for use. Lord 
Koreff looked as though he would 
be quite willing and able to use it; 
he was fleshy and full-faced, with 
hard muscles under the flesh. 

First Citizen Yaggo, People’s 
Manager-in-Chief of and for the 
Planetary Commonwealth of Aditya, 
wore a one-piece white garment like 
a mechanic’s coveralls, with the em- 
blem of his government and the 
numeral 1 on his breast. He carried 
no dagger; if he had worn a dress 
weapon, it would probably have been 
a slide rule. His head was completely 
shaven, and he had small, pale eyes 
and a rat-trap mouth. He was regard- 
ing the Durendalians with a distaste 
that was all too evidently reciprocated. 

King Ranulf appeared to have won 
the toss for first presentation. He 
squeezed the Imperial hand in both 
of his and looked up adoringly as he 
professed his deep honor and pleas- 
ure. Yaggo merely clasped both his 
hands in front of the emblem on his 

26 



chest and raised them quickly to the 
level of his chin, saying: "At the 
service of the Imperial State,” and 
adding, as though it hurt him, "Your 
Imperial Majesty.” Not being a chief 
of state, Lord Koreff came third; he 
merely shook hands and said, “A 
great honor, Your Imperial Majesty, 
and the thanks, both of myself and 
my royal master, for a most gracious 
reception.” The attempt to grab first 
place having failed, he was more 
than willing to .forget the whole sub- 
ject. There was a chance that finding 
a way to dispose of the grain surplus 
might make the difference between 
his staying in power at home or not. 

Fortunately, the three guests had 
already met the Bench of Counselors. 
Immediately after the presentation of 
Lord Koreff, they all started the two 
hundred yards’ march to the luncheon 
pavilion, the King of Durendal 
clinging to his left arm and First 
Citizen Yaggo stumping dourly on 
his right, with Prince Ganzay beyond 
him and Lord Koreff on Ranuf’s left. 

"Do you plan to stay long on 
Odin?” he asked the king. 

"Oh, I’d love to stay for simply 
months! Everything is so wonderful, 
here in Asgard; it makes our little 
capital of Roncevaux seem so utterly 
provincial. I’m going to tell Your 
Imperial Majesty a secret. I’m going 
to see if I can lure some of your 
wonderful ballet dancers back to 
Durendal with me. Aren’t I naughty, 
raiding Your Imperial Majesty’s 
theaters?” 

"In keeping with the traditions of 
your people,” he replied gravely. 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 



"You Sword-Worlders used to raid 
everywhere you went.” 

"I’m afraid those bad old days are 
long past. Your Imperial Majesty,” 
Lord Koreff said. "But we Sword- 
Worlders got around the galaxy, for 
a while. In fact, I seem to remember 
reading that some of our brethren 
from Morglay or Flamberge even oc- 
cupied Aditya for a couple of centu- 
ries. Not that you’d guess it to look 
at Aditya now.” 

'It was First Citizen Yaggo’s turn 
to take precedence — the seat on the 
right of the throne chair. Lord Koreff 
sat on Ranulf’s left, and, to balance 
him, Prince Ganzay sat beyond Yag- 
go and dutifully began inquiring of 
the People’s Manager-in-Chief about 
the structure of his government, 
launching him on a monologue that 
promised to last at least half the 
luncheon. That, left the King of 
Durendal to Paul; for a start, he 
dropped. a compliment on the cloth- 
of-silver leotard. 

King Ranulf laughed dulcetly, 
brushed the garment with his finger- 
tips, and said that it was just a simple 
thing patterned after the Durendalian 
peasant costume. 

"You have peasants on Durendal?” 

"Oh, dear-, yes! Such quaint, 
charming people. Of course, they’re 
all poor, and they wear such funny 
ragged clothes, and travel about in 
rackety old aircars, it’s a wonder 
they don’t fall apart in the air. But 
they’re so wonderfully happy and 
carefree. I often wish I were one of 
them, instead of king.” 



"Nonworking class, Your Imperial 
Majesty,” Lord Koreff explained. 

"On Aditya,” First Citizen Yaggo 
declared, "there are no classes, and 
-on Aditya everybody works. 'From 
each according to his ability; to each 
according to his need.’ ” 

"On Aditya,” an elderly Counselor 
four places to the right of him said 
loudly to his neighbor, "they don’t 
call them classes, they call them so- 
ciological categories, and they have 
nineteen of them. And on Aditya, 
they don’t call them nonworkers, 
they call them occupational reservists, 
and they have more of them than 
we do.” 

"But of course, I was born a king,” 
Ranulf said sadly and nobly. “I have 
a duty to my people.” 

"No, they don’t vote at all,” Lord 
Koreff was telling the Counselor on 
his left. "On Durendal, you have to 
pay taxes before you can vote.” 

"On Aditya the crime of taxation 
does not exist,” the First Citizen told 
the Prime Minister. 

"On Aditya,” the Counselor four 
places down said to his neighbor, 
"there’s nothing to tax. The state 
owns all the property, and if the 
Imperial Constitution and the Space 
Navy let them, the State would own 
all the people, too. Don’t tell me 
about Aditya. First big-ship command 
I had was the old lnvictus, 374, and 
she was based on Aditya for four 
years, and I’d sooner have spent that 
time in orbit around Niffelheim.” 
Now Paul remembered who he 
was; old Admiral — now Prince- 
Counselor — Geklar. He and Pnnce- 



MINISTRY OF DISTURBANCE 



27 




Counselor Dorflay would get along 
famously. The Lord .Marshal of 
Durendal was replying to some ob- 
jection somebody had made: 

“No, nothing of the sort. We hold 
the view that every civil or political 
right implies a civil or political obli- 
gation. The citizen has a right to 
protection from the Realm, for in- 
stance; he therefore has the obligation 
to defend the Realm. And his right 
to participate in the government of 
the Realm includes his obligation to 
support the Realm financially. Well, 
we tax only property; if a nonworker 
acquires taxable property, he has to 
go to work to earn the taxes. I might 

28 



add that our nonworkers are very 
careful to avoid acquiring taxable 
property.” 

"But if they don’t have votes to 
sell, what do they live on?” a Coun- 
selor asked in bewilderment. 

"The nobility supports them; the 
landowners, the trading barons, the 
industrial lords. The more nonwork- 
ing adherents they have, the greater 
their prestige.” And the more rifles 
they could muster when they quarrel- 
ed with their fellow nobles, of course. 
"Beside, if we didn’t do that, they’d 
turn brigand, and it costs less to sup- 
port them than to have to hunt them 
out of the brush and hang them.” 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 



"On Aditya, brigandage does not 
exist.” 

"On Aditya, all the brigands be- 
long to the Secret Police, only on 
Aditya they don’t call them Secret 
Police, they call them Servants of the 
People, Ninth Category.” 

A shadow passed quickly over the 
pavilion, and then another. He glanc- 
ed up quickly, to see two long black 
troop carriers, emblazoned with the 
Sun and Cogwheel and armored fist 
of Security, pass back of the Octagon 
Tower and let down on the north 
landing stage. A third followed. He 
rose quickly. 

"Please remain seated, gentlemen, 
and continue with the luncheon. If 
you will excuse me for a moment, I'll 
be back directly.” I hope, he added 
mentally. 

Captain-General Dorflay, surround- 
ed by a dozen officers, Thoran and 
human, had arrived on the lower 
terrace at the base of the Octagon 
Tower. They had a full Thoran rifle 
company with them. As he went 
down to them, Dorflay hurried for- 
ward. 

"It has come, Your Majesty!” he 
said, as soon as he could make him- 
self heard without raising his voice. 
"We are all ready to die with Your 
Majesty!” 

"Oh, I doubt it’ll come quite to 
that, Harv,” he said. "But just to be 
on the safe side, take that company 
and the gentlemen who are with you 
and get up to the mountains and join 
the Crown Prince and his party. 
Here.” He took a notepad from his 



belt pouch and wrote rapidly, sealing 
the note and giving it to Dorflay. 
"Give this to His Highness, and place 
yourself under his orders. I know; 
he’s just a boy, but he has a good 
head. Obey him exactly in everything, 
but under no circumstances return to 
the Palace or allow him to return 
until I call you.” 

"Your Majesty is ordering me 
away?” The old soldier was aghast. 

"An emperor who, has a son can 
be spared. An emperor’s son who is 
too young to marry can’t. You know 
that.” 

Harv Dorflay was only mad on one 
subject, and even within the frame 
of his madness he was intensely logi- 
cal. He nodded. "Yes, Your Imperial 
.Majesty. We both serve the Empire 
as best we can. And I will guard the 
little Princess Olva, too.” He grasped 
Paul’s hand, said, "Farewell, Your 
Majesty!” and dashed away, gather- 
ing his staff and the company of 
Thorans as he went. In an instant, 
they had vanished down the nearest 
rampway. 

The emperor watched their de- 
parture, and, at the same time, saw a 
big black aircar, bearing the three- 
mooned planet, argent on sable, of 
Travann, let down onto the south 
landing stage, and another troop 
carrier let down after it. Four men 
left the aircar — Yorn, Prince Tra- 
vann, and three officers in the black 
of the Security Guard. Prince Ganzay 
had also left the table; he came from 
one direction as Prince Travann ad- 
vanced from the other. They con- 
verged on the emperor. 



MINISTRY OF DISTURBANCE 



29 



"What’s happening here. Prince 
Travann?’’ Prince Ganzay demanded. 
"Why are you bringing all these 
troops to the Palace?” 

"Your Majesty,” Prince Travann 
said smoothly, "I trust that you will 
pardon this disturbance. I’m sure 
nothing serious- will happen, but I 
didn’t dare take chances. The students 
from the University are marching on 
the Palace— perfectly peaceful and 
loyal procession; they’re bringing a 
petition for Your Majesty — but on 
the way, while passing through a 
nonworkers’ district, they were at- 
tacked by a gang of hooligans con- 
nected with a voting-bloc boss called 
Nutchy the Knife. None of the stu- 
dents were hurt, and Colonel 
Handrosan got the procession out of 
the district promptly, and then drop- 
ped some of his men, who have since 
been re-enforced, to deal with the 
hooligans. That’s still going on, and 
these riots are like forest fires; you 
never know when they’ll shift and 
get out of control. I hope the men 
I brought won’t be needed here. 
Really, they’re a reserve for the riot 
work; I won’t commit them, though, 
until I’m sure the Palace is safe.” 

He nodded. "Prince Travann, how 
soon do you estimate that the student 
procession will arrive here?” he ask- 
ed. 

"They’re coming on foot, Your 
Majesty. I’d give them an hour, at 
least.” 

"Well, Prince Travann, will you 
have one of your officers see that the 
public-address screen in front is 
ready; I’ll want to talk to them when 

30 



they arrive. And meanwhile, I’ll want 
to talk to Chancellor Khane, Profes- 
sor Dandrik, Professor Faress and 
Colonel Handrosan, together. And 
Count Tammsan, too; Prince Ganzay, 
will you please screen him and invite 
him here immediately?” 

"Now, Your Majesty?” At first, 
the Prime Minister was trying to sup- 
press a look of incredulity; then he 
was trying to keep from showing 
comprehension. "Yes, Your Majesty; 
at once.” He frowned slightly when 
he saw two of the Security Guard 
officers salute Prince Travann instead 
of the emperor before going away. 
Then he .turned and hurried toward 
the Octagon Tower. 

The officer who had gone to the 
aircar to use the radio returned and 
reported that Colonel Handrosan was 
bringing the Chancellor and both pro- 
fessors from the University in his 
command-car, having anticipated that 
they would be wanted. Paul nodded 
in pleasure. 

"You have a good man there, 
Prince,” he said. "Keep an eye on 
him.” 

"I know it, Your Majesty. To tell 
the truth, it was he who organized 
this march. Thought they’d be better 
employed coming here to petition you 
than milling around the University 
getting into further mischief.” 

The other officer also returned, 
bringing a portable viewscreen with 
him on a contragravity-lifter. By this 
time, the Bench of Counselors and the 
three off-planet guests had become 
anxious and left the luncheon pavilion 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 



in a body. The Counselors were look- 
ing about uneasily, noticing the black 
uniformed Security Guards who had 
left the troop carrier and were taking 
position by squads all around the 
emperor. First Citizen Yaggo, and 
King Ranulf and Lord Koreff, also 
seemed uneasy. They were avoiding 
the proximity of Paul as though he 
had the green death. 

The viewscreen came on, and in 
it the city, as seen from an aircar 
at two thousand feet, spread out with 
the Palace visible in the distance, the 
golden pile of the Octagon Tower 
jutting up from it. The car carrying 
the pickup was behind the procession, 
which was moving toward the Palace 
along one of the broad skyways, with 
Gendarmes and Security Guards lead- 
ing, following and flanking. There 
were a few Imperial and planetary 
and school flags, but none of the 
quantity-made banners and placards 
which always betray a planned dem- 
onstration. 

Prince Ganzay had been gone for 
some time, now. When he returned, 
he drew Paul aside. 

"Your Majesty,” he whispered 
softly, "I tried to summon Army 
troops, but it’ll be hours before any 
can get here. And the Militia can’t 
be mobilized in anything less than 
a day. There are only five thousand 
Army Regulars on Odin, now, any- 
how.” 

And half of them officers and 
noncoms of skeleton regiments. Like' 
the Navy, the Army had been scat- 
tered all over the Empire — on Behe- 
moth and Amida and Xipetotec and 

MINISTRY OF DISTURBANCE 



Astarte and Jotunnheim — in response 
to calls for support from Security. 

"Let’s have a look at this rioting. 
Prince Travann,” one of the less 
decrepit Counselors, a retired general, 
said. "I want to see how your people 
are handling it.” 

The officers who had come with 
Prince Travann consulted briefly, and 
then got another pickup on the screen. 
This must have been a regular public 
pickup, on the front of a tall building. 
It was a couple of miles farther away; 
the Palace was visible only as a tiny 
glint from the Octagon Tower, on 
the skyline. Half a dozen Security 
aircars were darting about, two of 
them chasing a battered civilian 
vehicle and firing at it. On rooftops 
and terraces and skyways, little 
clumps of Security Guards were skir- 
mishing, dodging from cover to 
cover, and sometimes individuals or 
groups in civilian clothes fired back at 
them. There was a surprising absence 
of casualties. 

"Your Majesty!” the old general 
hissed in a scandalized whisper. 
"That’s nothing but a big fake! Look, 
they’re all firing blanks! The rifles 
hardly kick at all, and there’s too 
much smoke for propellant-powder.” 

"I noticed that.” This riot must 
have been carefully prepared, long in 
advance. Yet the student riot seemed 
to have been entirely spontaneous. 
That puzzled him; he wished he knew 
just what Yorn Travann was up to. 
“Just keep quiet about it,” he ad- 
vised. 

More aircars were arriving, big 

31 



and luxurious, emblazoned with the 
arms of some of the most distinguish- 
ed families in Asgard. One of the 
first to let down bore the device of 
Duklass, and from it the Minister of 
Economics, the Minister of Educa- 
tion, and a couple of other Ministers, 
alighted. Count Duklass went at once 
to Prince Travann, drawing him away 
from King Ranulf and Lord KorefJ 
and talking to him rapidly and ear- 
nestly. Count Tammsan approached 
at a swift half-run. 

"Save Your Majesty!’’ he greeted, 
breathlessly. "What’s going on, sir? 
We heard something about some pet- 
ty brawl at the University, that Prince 
Ganzay had become alarmed about, 
but now there seems to be fighting 
all over the city. I never saw anything 
like it; on the way here we had to go 
up to ten thousand feet to get over 
a battle, and there’s a vast crowd on 
the Avenue of the Arts, and — ’’ He 
took in the Security Guards. "Your 
Majesty, just what is going on?” 

"Great and frightening changes.” 
Count Tammsan started; he must 
have been to a psi-medium, too. "But 
I think the Empire is going to sur- 
vive them. There may even be a few 
improvements, before things are 
done.” 

A blue-uniformed Gendarme offi- 
cer approached Prince Travann, draw- 
ing him away from Count Duklass 
and speaking briefly to him. The 
Minister of Security nodded, then 
turned back to the Minister of 
Economics. They talked for a few 
moments longer, then clasped hands, 
and Travann left Duklass with his 



face wreathed in smiles. The Gen- 
darme officer accompanied him as he 
approached. 

"Your Majesty, this is Colonel 
Handrosan, the officer who handled 
the affair at the University.” 

"And a very good piece of work, 
colonel.” He shook hands with him. 
"Don’t be surprised if it’s remem- 
bered next Honors Day. Did - you 
bring Khane and the two profes- 
sors?” 

"They’re down on the lower land- 
ing-stage, Your Majesty. We’re delay- 
ing the students, to give Your Majes- 
ty time to talk to them.” 

"We’ll see them now. My study 
will do.” The officer saluted and 
went away. He turned to Count 
Tammsan. "That’s why I asked Prince 
Ganzay to invite you here. This 
thing’s become too public to be ig- 
nored; some sort of action will have 
to be taken. I’m going to talk to the 
students; I want to find out just what 
happened before I commit myself 
to anything. Well, gentlemen, let’s 
go to my study.” 

Count Tammsen looked around, be- 
wildered. "But I don’t understand — ” 
He fell into step with Paul and the 
Minister of Security; a squad of Se- 
curity Guards fell in behind them. 
"I don’t understand what’s happen- 
ing,” he complained. 

An emperor about to have his 
throne yanked out from under him, 
and a minister about to stage a coup 
d’etat, taking time out to settle a 
trifling academic squabble. One thing 
he did understand, though, was that 
the Ministry of Education was getting 



32 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 



some very bad publicity at a time 
when it could be least afforded. Prince 
Travann was telling him about the 
hooligans’ attack on the marching 
students, and that worried him even 
more. Nonworking hooligans acted 
as voting-bloc bosses ordered; voting- 
bloc bosses acted on orders from the 
political manipulators of Cartels and 
pressure-groups, and action down- 
ward through the nonworkers was 
usually accompanied by action up- 
ward through influences to which 
ministers were sensitive. 

There were a dozen Security 
Guards in black tunics, and as many 
Household Thorans in red kilts, in 
the hall outside the study, fraterniz- 
ing amicably. They hurried apart and 
formed two ranks, and the Thoran 
officer with them saluted. 

Going into the study, he went to 
his desk; Count Tammsan lit a ciga- 
rette and puffed nervously, and sat 
down as though he were afraid the 
chair would collapse under him. 
Prince Travann sank into another 
chair and relaxed, closing his eyes. 
There was a bit of wafer on the floor 
by Paul’s chair, dropped by the little 
dog that morning. He stooped and 
picked it up, laying it on his desk, 
and sat looking at it until the door 
screen flashed and buzzed. Then he 
pressed the release button. 

Colonel Handrosan ushered the 
three University men in ahead of 
him — Khane, with a florid, arrogant 
face that showed worry under the 
arrogance; Dandrik, gray-haired and 
stoop-shouldered, looking irritated; 

MINISTRY OF DISTURBANCE 



Faress, young, with a scaibby red 
mustache, looking bellicose. He greet- 
ed them collectively and invited them 
to sit, and there was a brief uncom- 
fortable silence which everybody ex- 
pected him to break. 

"Well, gentlemen,” he said, "we 
want to get the facts about this affair 
in some kind of order. I wish you’d 
tell me, as briefly and as completely 
as possible, what you know about it.” 
"There’s the man who started it!” 
Khane declared, pointing at Faress. 

"Professor Faress had nothing to 
do with it,” Colonel Handrosan 
stated flatly. "He and his wife were 
in their apartment, packing to move 
out, when it started. Somebody called 
him and told him about the fighting 
at the stadium, and he went there at 
once to talk his students into ' dis- 
persing. By that time, the situation 
was completely out of hand; he could 
do nothing with the students.” 
"Well, I think we ought to find 
out, first of all, why Professor Faress 
was dismissed,” Prince Travann said. 
“It will take a good deal to convince 
me that any teacher able to inspire 
such loyalty in his students is a bad 
teacher, or deserves dismissal.” 

"As I understand,” Paul said, "the 
dismissal was the result of a disagree- 
ment between Professor Faress and 
Professor Dandrik about an experi- 
ment on which they were working. 
I believe, an experiment to fix 
more exactly the velocity of accel- 
erated subnucleonic particles. Beta 
micropositos, wasn’t it, Chancellor 
Khane?” 

Khane looked at him in surprise. 

33 



"Your Majesty, I know nothing about 
that. Professor Dandrik is head of 
the physics department; he came to 
me, about six months ago, and told 
me that in his opinion this experi- 
ment was desirable. I simply deferred 
to his judgment and authorized 
it.” 

"Your Majesty has just stated the 
purpose of the experiment,” Dandrik 
said. "For centuries, there have been 
inaccuracies in mathematical descrip- 
tions of subnucleonic events, and this 
experiment was undertaken in the 
hope of eliminating these inaccu- 
racies.” He went into a lengthy 
mathematical explanation. 

"Yes, I understand that, professor. 
But just what was the actual experi- 
ment, in terms of physical oper- 
ations?” 

Dandrik looked helpless for a mo- 
ment. Faress, who had been choking 
back a laugh, intermpted: 

"Your Majesty, we were using the 
big turbo- linear accelerator to project 
fast micropositos down an evacuated 
tube one kilometer in length, and 
clocking them with light, the velocity 
of which has been established almost 
absolutely. I will say that with respect 
to the light, there were no observable 
inaccuracies at any time, and until 
the micropositos were accelerated to 
16.067543333V3 times light-speed, 
they registered much as expected. 
Beyond that velocity, however, the 
target for the micropositos began 
registering impacts before the source 
registered emission, although the light 
target was still registering normally. 

34 



I notified Professor Dandrik about 
this, and — ” 

"You notified him. Wasn’t he 
present at the time?” 

"No, Your Majesty.” 

"Your Majesty, I am head of the 
physics department of the University. 
I have too much administrative work 
to waste time on the technical aspects 
of experiments like this,” Dandrik 
interjected. 

"I understand. Professor Faress 
was actually performing the experi- 
ment. You told Professor Dandrik 
what had happened. What then?” 
"Why, Your Majesty, he simply 
declared that the limit of accuracy 
had been reached, and ordered the 
experiment dropped. He then report- 
ed the highest reading before this 
anticipation effect was observed as 
the newly established limit of accu- 
racy in measuring the velocity of 
accelerated micropositos, and said 
nothing whatever in his report about 
the anticipation effect.” 

"I read a summary of the report. 
Why, Professor Dandrik, did you 
omit mentioning this slightly unusual 
effect?” 

"Why,- because the whole thing 
was utterly preposterous, that’s why!” 
Dandrik barked, and then hastily 
added, "Your Imperial Majesty.” He 
turned and glared at Faress; profes- 
sors do not glare at galactic emperors. 
“Your Majesty, the limit of accuracy 
had been reached. After that, it was 
only to be expected that the apparatus 
would give erratic reports.” 

"It might have been expected that 
the apparatus would stop registering 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 



increased velocity relative to the light- 
speed standard, or that it would be- 
gin registering disproportionately,” 
Faress said. "But, Your Majesty, I’ll 
submit that it was not to be expected 
that it would register impacts before 
emissions. And I’ll add this. After 
registering this slight apparent jump 
into the future, there was no pro- 
portionate increase in anticipation 
with further increase of acceleration. 
I wanted to find out why. But when 
Professor Dandrik saw what was hap- 
pening, he became almost hysterical, 
and ordered the accelerator shut down 
as though he were afraid it would 
blow up in his face.” 

"I think it has blown up in his 
face,” Prince Travann said quietly. 
"Professor, have you any theory, or 
supposition, or even any wild guess, 
as to how this anticipation effect oc- 
curs ?” 

"Yes, Your Highness. I suspect 
that the apparent anticipation is sim- 
ply an observational illusion, similar 
to the illusion of time-reversal ex- 
perienced when it was first observed, 
though not realized, that positrons 
sometimes exceeded light-speed.” 

"Why, that’s what I've been say- 
ing, all along!” Dandrik broke in. 
"The whole thing is an illusion, 
due — 

"To having reached the limit of 
observational accuracy; I understand, 
Professor Dandrik. Go on, Professor 
Faress.” 

"I think that beyond 16.06754- 
3333% times light-speed, the micro- 
positos ceased to have any velocity 

MINISTRY OF DISTURBANCE 



at all, velocity being defined as rate 
of motion in four-dimensional space- 
time. I believe they moved through 
the three spatial dimensions without 
moving at all in the fourth, temporal, 
dimension. They made that kilometer 
from source to target, literally, in 
nothing flat. Instantaneity.” 

That must have been the first time 
he had actually come out and said 
it. Dandrik jumped to his feet with 
a cry that was just short of being a 
shriek. 

"He’s crazy! Your Majesty, you 
mustn't . . . that is, well, I mean — 
Please, Your Majesty, don’t listen to 
him. He doesn’t know what he’s say- 
ing. He’s raving!” 

"He knows perfectly well what he’s 
saying, and it probably scares him 
more than it does you. The difference 
is that he’s willing to face it and you 
aren’t.” 

The difference was that Faress was 
a scientist and Dandrik was a science 
teacher. To Faress, a new door had 
opened, the first new door in eight 
hundred years. To Dandrik, it threat- 
ened invalidation of everything he 
had taught since the morning he had 
opened his first class. He could no 
longer say to his pupils, "You are 
here to learn from me.” He would 
have to say, more humbly, "We are 
here to learn from the Universe.” 

It had happened so many times 
before, too. The comfortable and 
established Universe had fitted all the 
known facts — and then new facts had 
been learned that wouldn’t fit it. The 
third planet of the Sol system had 
once been the center of the Universe, 

35 



and then Terra, and Sol, and even 
the galaxy, had been forced to abdi- 
cate centricity. The atom had been 
indivisible — until somebody divided 
it. There had been intangible sub- 
stance that had permeated the Uni- 
verse, because it had been necessary 
for the transmission of light — until 
it was demonstrated to be unneces- 
sary and nonexistent. And the speed 
of light had been the ultimate veloci- 
ty, once, and could be exceeded no 
more than the atom could be divided. 
And light-speed had been constant, 
regardless of distance from source, 
and the Universe, to explain certain 
observed phenomena, had been be- 
lieved to be expanding simultaneously 
in all directions. And the things that 
had happened in psychology, when 
psi-phenomena had become too obvi- 
ous to be shrugged away. 

"And then, when Dr. Dandrik 
ordered you to drop this experiment, 
just when it was becoming interest- 
ing, you refused?’’ 

"Your Majesty, I couldn’t stop, 
not then. But Dr. Dandrik ordered 
the apparatus dismantled and scrap- 
ped, and I’m afraid I lost my head. 
Told him I’d punch his silly old face 
in, for one thing.’’ 

"You admit that?’’ Chancellor 
Khane cried. 

"I think you showed admirable 
self-restraint in not doing it. Did you 
explain to Chancellor Khane the im- 
portance of this experiment?’’ 

"I tried to, Your Majesty, but he 
simply wouldn’t listen.” 

"But, Your Majesty!” Khane ex- 
postulated. "Professor Dandrik is 

36 



head of the department, and one of 
the foremost physicists of the Empire, 
and this young man is only one of 
the junior assistant-professors. Isn’t 
even a full professor, and he got his 
degree from some school away off- 
planet. University of Brannerton, on 
Giiiili.” 

"Were you a pupil of Professor 
Vann Evaratt?” Prince Travann asked 
sharply. 

"Why, yes, sir. I — ” 

"Ha, no wonder!” Dandrik crow- 
ed. "Your Majesty, that man’s an 
out-and-out charlatan ! He was kicked 
out of the University here ten years 
ago, and'I’m surprised he could even 
get on the faculty of a school like 
Brannerton, on a planet like 
Gimli.” 

"Why, you stupid old fool !” Faress 
yelled at him. "You aren’t enough 
of a physicist to oil robots in Vann 
Evaratt’ s lab!” 

"There, Your Majesty,” Khane 
said. "You see how much respect for 
authority this hooligan has!” 

On Aditya, such would be un- 
thinkable; on Aditya, everybody re- 
spects authority. Whether it’s re- 
respectable or not. 

Count Tammsan laughed, and he 
realized that he must have spoken 
aloud. Nobody else seemed to have 
gotten the joke. 

"Well, how about the riot, now?” 
he asked. "Who started that?” 

"Colonel Handrosan made an in- 
vestigation on the spot,” Prince Tra- 
vann said. "May I suggest that we 
hear his report?” 

"Yes indeed. Colonel?” 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 



Handrosan rose and stood with his 
hands behind his back, looking fixed- 
ly at the wall behind the desk. 

"Your Majesty, the students of 
Professor Faress’ advanced subnucle- 
onic physics class, postgraduate stu- 
dents, all of them, were told of Pro- 
fessor Faress’ dismissal by a faculty 
member who had taken over the class 
this morning. They all got up and 
walked out in a body, and gathered 
outdoors on the campus to discuss 
the matter. At the next class break, 
they were joined by other science 



students, and they went into the sta- 
dium, where they were joined, half 
an hour later, by more students who 
had learned of the dismissal in the 
meantime. At no time was the gath- 
ering disorderly. The stadium is cov- 
ered by a viewscreen pickup which is 
fitted with a recording device; there 
is a complete audio-visual of the 
whole tiling, including the attack on 
them by the campus police. 

"This attack was ordered by Chan- 




37 




cellor Khane, at about 1100; the chief 
of the campus police was told to clear 
the stadium, and when he asked if 
he was to use force, Chancellor Khane 
told him to use anything he wanted 
to.” 

"I did not! I told him to get the 
students out of the stadium, but — ” 

"The chief of campus police car- 
ries a personal wire recorder,” Hand- 
rosan said, in his flat monotone. "He 
has a recording of the order, in 
Chancellor Khane’s own voice. I 
heard it myself. The police,” he con- 
tinued, "first tried to use gas, but 
the wind was against them. They 
then tried to use sono-stunners, but 
the students rushed them and over- 
whelmed them. If Your Majesty will 
permit a personal opinion, while I do 
not sympathize with their subsequent 
attack on the Administration Center, 
they were entirely within their rights 
in defending themselves in the sta- 
dium, and it’s hard enough to stop 
trained and disciplined troops when 
they are winning. After defeating the 
police, they simply went on by what 
might be called the momentum of 
victory.” 

"Then you’d say that it’s positively 
established that the students were be- 
having in a peacable and orderly man- 
ner in the stadium when they were 
attacked, and that Chancellor Khane 
ordered the attack personally?” 

"I would, emphatically, Your 
Majesty.” 

"I think we’ve done enough here, 
gentlemen.” He turned to Count 
Tammsan. "This is, jointly, the af- 
fair of Education and Security. I 

38 



would suggest that you and Prince 
Travann join in a formal and public 
inquiry, and until all the facts have 
been established and recorded and 
action decided upon, the dismissal of 
Professor Faress be reversed and he 
be restored to his position on the 
faculty.” 

"Yes, Your Majesty,” Tammsan 
agreed. "And I think it would be a 
good idea for Chancellor Khane to 
take a vacation till then, too.” 

"I would further suggest that, as 
this microposito experiment is cru- 
cial to the whole question, it should 
be repeated. Under the personal di- 
rection of Professor Faress.” 

"I agree with that, Your Majesty,” 
Prince Travann said. "If it’s as im- 
portant as I think it is, Professor 
Dandrik is greatly to be censured for 
ordering it stopped and for failing 
to report this anticipation effect.” 

"We’ll consult about the inquiry, 
including the experiment, tomorrow, 
Your Highness,” Tammsan told Tra- 
vann. 

Paul rose, and everybody rose with 
him. "That being the case, you gentle- 
men are all excused. The students’ 
procession ought to be arriving, now, 
and I want to tell them what’s going 
to be done. Prince Travann, Count 
Tammsan; do you care to accompany 
me?” 

Going up to the central terrace 
in front of the Octagon Tower, he 
turned to Count Tammsan. 

"I notice you laughed at that re- 
mark of mine about Aditya,” he said. 
"Have you met the First Citizen?” 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 



"Only on screen, sir. He was at 
me for about an hour, this morning. 
It seems that they are reforming the 
educational system on Aditya. On 
Aditya, everything gets reformed 
every ten years, whether it needs it 
or not. He came here to find some- 
body to take charge of the reforma- 
tion.” 

He stopped short, bringing the 
others to a halt beside him, and laugh- 
ed heartily. 

"Well, . we’ll send First Citizen 
Yaggo away happy; we’ll make him. 
a present of the most distinguished 
educator on Odin.” 

"Khane?’’ Tammsan asked. 

"Khane. Isn’t it wonderful; if you 
have a few problems, you have 
trouble, but if you have a whole lot 
of problems, they start solving each 
other. We get a chance to get rid of 
Khane, and create a vacancy that can 
be filled by somebody big enough to 
fill -it; the Ministry of Education gets 
out from under a nasty situation; 
First Citizen Yaggo gets what he 
thinks he wants — ’’ 

"And if I know Khane, and if I 
know the People’s Commonwealth of 
Aditya, it won’t be a year before 
Yaggo has Khane shot or stuffs him 
into jail, and then the Space Navy 
will have an excuse to visit Aditya, 
and Aditya’ll never be the same after- 
ward,” Prince Travann added. 

The students massed < on the front 
lawns were still cheering as they went 
down after addressing them. The 
Security Guards were conspicuously 
absent and it was a detail of red- 
kilted Thoran riflemen who met them 

MINISTRY OF DISTURBANCE 



as they entered the hall to the Session 
Chamber. Prince Ganzay approached, 
attended by two Household .. Guard 
officers, a human and a Thoran. 
Count Tammsan looked from one to 
the other of his companions, bewil- 
dered. The bewildering thing was 
that everything was as it should be. 

"Well, gentlemen,” Paul said, "I'm 
sure that both of you will want to 
confer for a moment with your col- 
leagues in the Rotunda before the 
Session. Please don’t feel obliged to 
attend me further.” 

Prince Ganzay approached as they 
went down the hall. "Your Majesty, 
what is going on here?” he demanded 
querulously. "Just who is in control 
of the Palace — you or Prince Tra- 
vann? And where is His Imperial 
Highness, and where is General Dor- 
flay ?” 

"I sent Dorflay to join Prince Rod- 
rik’s picnic party. If you’re upset 
about this, you can imagine what he 
might have done here.” 

Prince Ganzay looked at him curi- 
ously for a moment. "I thought I 
understood what was happening,” he 
said. "Now I — This business about 
the students, sir; how did it come 
out?” 

Paul told -him. They talked for a 
while, and then the Prime Minister 
looked at his watch, and suggested 
that the Session ought to be getting 
started. Paul nodded, and they went 
down the hall and into the Rotunda. 

The big semicircular lobby was 
empty, now, except for a platoon of 
Household Guards, and the Empress 
Marris and her ladies-in-waiting. She 

39 



advanced as quickly as her sheath 
gown would permit, and took his 
arm; the ladies-in-waiting fell in be- 
hind her, and Prince Ganzay went 
ahead, crying: "My Lords, Your 
Venerable Highnesses, gentlemen; 
His Imperial Majesty!” 

Marris tightened her grip on his 
arm as they started forward. "Paul!” 
she hissed into his ear. "What is this 
silly story about Yorn Travann trying 
to seize the Throne?” 

"Isn’t it? Yorn’s been too close the 
Throne for too long not to know 
what sort of a seat it is. He’d commit 
any crime up to and including geno- 
cide to keep off it.” 

She gave a quick skip to get into 
step with him. "Then why’s he filled 
the Palace with these blackcoats? Is 
Rod all right?” 

"Perfectly all right; he’s some- 
where out in the mountains, keeping 
Harv Dorflay out of mischief.” 

They crossed the Session Hall and 
took their seats on the double throne; 
everybody sat down, and the Prime 
Minister, after some formalities, de- 
clared the Plenary Session in being. 
Almost at once, one of the Prince- 
Counselors was on his feet begging 
His Majesty’s leave to interrogate the 
Government. 

“I wish to ask His Highness the 
Minister of Security the meaning of 
all this unprecedented disturbance, 
both here in the Palace and in the 
city,” he said. 

Prince Travann rose at once. “Your 
Majesty, in reply to the question of 
His Venerable Highness,” he began, 

40 



and then launched himself into an 
account of the student, riot, the march 
to petition the emperor, and the clash 
with the nonworking class hooligans. 
"As to the affair at the University, I 
hesitate to speak on what is really the 
concern of His Lordship the Minis- 
ter of Education, but as to the fighting 
in the city, if it is still going on, I 
can assure His Venerable Highness 
that the Gendarmes and Security 
Guards have it well in hand; the per- 
sons responsible are being rounded 
up, and, if the Minister of Justice 
concurs, • an inquiry will be started 
tomorrow.” 

The Minister of Justice assured the 
Minister of Security that his Ministry 
would be quite ready to co-operate in 
the inquiry. Count Tammsan then got 
up and began talking about the riot 
at the University. 

"What did happen, Paul?” Marris 
whispered. 

"Chancellor Khane sacked a science 
professor for being too interested in 
science. The student’s didn’t like it. 
I think Khane’s successor will rectify 
that. Have a good time at the Flower 
Festivals?” 

She raised her fan to hide a gri- 
mace. “I made my schedule,” she 
said. "Tomorrow, I have fifty more 
booked.” 

"Your Imperial Majesty!” The 
Counselor who had risen paused, to 
make sure that he had the Imperial 
attention, before continuing: "Inas- 
much as this question also seems to 
involve a scientific experiment, I 
would suggest that the Ministry of 
Science and Technology is also in- 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 



terested, and since there is at present 
no Minister holding that portfolio, I 
would suggest that the discussion be 
continued after a Minister has been 
elected.” 

The Minister of Health and Sanity 
jumped to his feet. 

"Your Imperial Majesty; permit me 
to concur with the proposal of His 
Venerable Highness, and to extend 
it with the subproposal that the Min- 
istry of Science and Technology be 
abolished, and its functions and per- 
sonnel divided among the other Min- 
istries, specifically those of Education 
and of Economics.” 

The Minister of Fine Arts was up 
before he was fully seated. 

"Your Imperial Majesty; permit 
me to concur with the proposal of 
Count Guilfred, and to extend it 
further with the proposal that the 
Ministry of Defense, now also va- 
cant, be likewise abolished, and its 
functions and personnel added to the 
Ministry of Security under His High- 
ness Prince Travann.” 

So that was it ! Marris, beside him, 
said, "Well!” He had long ago dis- 
covered that she could pack more 
meaning into that monosyllable than 
the average counselor could into a 
half-hour’s speech. Prince Ganzay 
was thunderstruck, and from the 
Bench of Counselors six or eight 
voices were babbling loudly at once. 
Four Ministers were on their feet 
clamoring for recognition; Count 
Duklass of Economics was yelling the 
loudest, so he got it. 

"Your Imperial Majesty; it would 
ministry of disturbance 



have been most unseemly in me to 
have spoken in favor of the proposal 
of Count Guilfred, being an interest- 
ed party, but I feel no such hesitation 
in concurring with the proposal of 
Baron Garatt, the Minister of Fine 
Arts. Indeed, I consider it a most 
excellent proposal — ” 

"And I consider it the most diaboli- 
cally dangerous proposal to be made 
in this Hall in the last six centuries!” 
old Admiral Geklar shouted. "This is 
a proposal to concentrate all the arm- 
ed force of the Empire in the hands 
of one man. Who can say what un- 
scrupulous use might be made of 
such power?” 

"Are you intimating, Prince-Coun- 
selor, that Prince Travann is con- 
templating some tyranical or subver- 
sive use of such power?” Count 
Tammsan, of all people, demanded. 

There was a concerted gasp at that; 
about half the Plenary Session were 
absolutely sure that he was. Admiral 
Geklar backed quickly away from the 
question. 

"Prince Travann will not be the 
last Minister of Security,” he said. 

"What I was about to say, Your 
Majesty, is that as matters stand. 
Security has a virtual monopoly on 
armed power on this planet. When 
these disorders in the city — which 
Prince Travann’s men are now bring- 
ing under control — broke out, there 
was, I am informed, an order sent 
out to bring Regular Army and 
Planetary Militia into Asgard. It will 
be hours before any of the former 
can arrive, and at least a day before 
the latter can even be mobilized. By 

41 



the time any of them get here, there 
will be nothing for them to do. Is that 
not correct, Prince Ganzay?” 

The Prime Minister looked at him 
angrily, stung by the realization that 
somebody else had a personal intelli- 
gence service as good as his own, 
then swallowed his anger and as- 
sented. 

"Furthermore,” Count Duklass 
continued, "the Ministry of Defense, 
itself, is an anachronism, which no 
doubt accounts for the condition in 
which we now find it. The Empire 
has no external enemies whatever; all 
our defense problems are problems of 
internal security. Let us therefore turn 
the facilities over to the Ministry re- 
sponsible for the tasks.” 

The debate went on and on; he 
paid less and less attention to it, and 
it became increasingly obvious that 
opposition to the proposition was 
dwindling. Cries of, "Vote! Vote!” 
began to be heard from its supporters. 
Prince Ganzay rose from his desk and 
came to the throne. 

"Your Imperial Majesty,” he said 
softly. "lam opposed to this proposi- 
tion, but I am convinced that enough 
favor it to pass it, even over Your 
Majesty’s veto. Before the vote is 
called, does Your Majesty wish my 
resignation?” 

He rose and stepped down beside 
the Prime Minister, putting an arm 
over Prince Ganzay’s shoulder. 

"Far from it, old friend,” he said, 
in a distinctly audible voice. "I will 
have too much need for you. But, as 
for the proposal, I don’t oppose it. I 
think it an excellent one; it has my 

42 



approval.” He lowered his voice. "As 
soon as it’s passed, place General 
Dorflay’s name in nomination.” 

The Prime Minister looked at him 
sadly for a moment, then nodded, 
returning to his desk, where he rap- 
ped for order and called for the vote. 

"Well, if you can’t lick them, join 
them,” Marris said as he sat down 
beside her. "And if they start chasing 
you, just yell, 'There he goes; follow 
me !’ ” 

The proposal carried, almost unani- 
mously. Prince Ganzay then presented 
the name of Captain-General Dorflay 
for elevation to the Bench of Coun- 
selors, and the emperor decreed it. 
As soon as the Session was adjourned 
and he could do so, he slipped out 
the little door behind the throne, into 
an elevator. 

In the room at the top of the 
Octagon Tower, he laid aside his belt 
and dress dagger and unfastened his 
tunic, than sat down in his deep chair 
and called a serving robot. It was the 
one which had brought him his 
breakfast, and he greeted it as a 
friend; it lit a cigarette for him, and 
poured a drink of brandy. For a long 
time he sat, smoking and sipping 
and looking out the wide window to 
the west, where the orange sun was 
firing the clouds behind the moun- 
tains, and he realized that he, was 
abominably tired. Well, no wonder; 
more Empire history had been made 
today than in the years since he had 
come to the Throne. 

Then something behind him click- 
ed. He turned his head, to see Yorn 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 



Travann emerge from the concealed 
elevator. He grinned and lifted his 
drink in greeting. 

"•I thought you’d be a little late,” 
he said. "Everybody trying to climb 
onto the bandwagon?” 

Yorn Travann came forward, un- 
buckling his belt and laying it with 
Paul’s; he sank into the chair opposite, 
and the robot poured him a drink. 

"Well, do you blame them? What 
would it have looked like to you, in 
their place?” 

"A coup d’etat. For that matter, 
wasn’t that what it was? Why didn’t 
you tell me you were springing it?” 

"I didn’t spring it; it was sprung 
on me. I didn’t know a thing about 
it till Max Duklass buttonholed me 
down by the landing stage. I’d in- 
tended fighting this proposal to par- 
tition Science and Technology, but 
this riot blew up and scared Duklass 
and Tammsan and Guilfred and the 
rest of them. They weren’t too sure 
of their majority — that’s why they 
had the election postponed a couple 
of times — but they were sure that the 
riot would turn some of the undecided 
Counselors against them. So they 
offered to back me to take over De- 
fense in exchange for my supporting 
their proposal. It looked too good to 
pass up.” 

"Even at the price of wrecking 
Science and Technology?” 

' "It was wrecked, or left to rust 
into uselessness, long ago. The main 
function of Technology has been to 
suppress anything that might threaten 
this state of economic rigor mortis 
that Duklas calls stability, and the 

MINISTRY OP DISTURBANCE 



function of Science has been to let 
muttonheads like Khane and Dandrik 
dominate the teaching of science. 
Well, Defense has its own scientific 
and technical sections, and when we 
come to carving the bird, Duklass and 
Tammsan are going to see a lot of 
slices going onto my- plate.” 

"And when it’s all cut up, it will 
be discovered that there is no provi- 
sion for original research. So it will, 
please My Majesty to institute an 
Imperial Office of Scientific Research, 
independent of any Ministry, and 
guess who’ll be named to head it.” 

"Faress. And, by the way, we’re all 
set on Khane, too. First Citizen Yag- 
go is as delighted to have him as we 
are to get rid of him. Why don’t we 
get Vann Evaratt back, and give him 
the job?” 

"Good. If he takes charge there at 
the opening of the next academic 
year, in ten years we’ll have a thou- 
sand young men, maybe ten times 
that many, who won’t be afraid of 
new things and new ideas. But the 
main thing is that now you have 
Defense, and now the plan can really 
start firing all jets.” 

"Yes.” Yorn Travann got out his 
cigarettes and lit one. Paul glanced at 
the robot, hoping that its feelings 
hadn’t been hurt. “All these native 
uprisings I’ve been blowing up out 
of inter-tribal knife fights, and all 
thesg civil wars my people have been 
manufacturing; there’ll be more of 
them, and I’ll start yelling my head 
off for an adequate Space Navy, and 
after we get it, these local troubles 
will all stop, and then what’ll we be 

43 



expected to do? Scrap the ships?” 

They both knew what would be 
done with some of them. It would 
have to be done stealthily, while no- 
body was looking, but some of those 
ships would go far beyond the boun- 
daries of the Empire, and new things 
would happen. New worlds, new 
problems. Great and frightening 
changes. 

"Paul, we agreed upon this long 
ago, when we were still boys at the 
University. The Empire stopped 
growing, and when things stop grow- 
ing, they start dying, the death of 
petrifaction. And when petrifaction is 
complete, the cracking and the 
crumbling starts, and there’s no way 
of stopping it. But if we can get 
people out onto new planets, the Em- 
pire won’t die; it’ll start growing 
again.” 

"You didn’t start that thing at the 
University, this morning, yourself, 
did you?” 

"Not the student riot, no. But the 
hooligan attack, yes. That was some 
of my own men. The real hooligans 
began looting after Handrosan had 
gotten the students out of the district. 
We collared all of them, including 
their boss, Nutchy the Knife, right 
away, and as soon as we did that, Big 
Moogie and Zikko the Nose tried to 
move in. We’re cleaning them up 
now. By tomorrow morning there 
won’t be one of these nonworkers’ 
voting blocks left in Asgard, and by 
the end of the week they’ll be cleaned 
up all over Odin. I have discovered 
a plot, and they’re all involved in it." 

"Wait a moment.” Paul got to his 

44 



feet. "That reminds me; Harv Dor- 
fiay’s hiding Rod and Olva out in 
the mountains. I wanted him out of 
here while things were happening. 
I'll have to call him and tell him it’s 
safe to come in, now.” 

"Well, zip up your tunic and put 
your dagger on; you look as though 
you’d been arrested, disarmed and 
searched.’’ 

"That’s right.” He hastily repaired 
his appearance and went to the screen 
across the room, punching out the 
combination of the screen with Rod- 
rik’s picnic party. 

A young lieutenant of the House- 
hold Troops appeared in it, and had 
to be reassured. He got General 
Dorflay. 

"Your Majesty! You are all right?” 
"Perfectly all right, general, and 
it’s quite safe to bring His Imperial 
Highness in. The conspiracy against 
the Throne has been crushed.” 

"Oh, thank the gods! Is Prince 
Travann a prisoner?” 

"Quite the contrary, general. It 
was our loyal and devoted subject, 
Prince Travann, who crashed the con- 
spiracy.” 

"But — But, Your Majesty — !” 
"You aren’t to be blamed for sus- 
pecting him, general. His agents 
were working in the very innermost 
councils of the conspirators. Every 
one of the people whom you suspect- 
ed — with excellent reason — was ac- 
tually working to defeat the plot. 
Think back, general; the scheme to 
put the gun in the viewscreen, the 
scheme to sabotage the elevator, the 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 



scheme to introduce assassins into the 
orchestra with guns built into their 
trumpets — every one came to your 
notice because of what seemed to be 
some indiscretion of the plotters, 
didn’t it?” 

"Why . . . why, yes, Your Majes- 
ty!” By this time tomorrow, he would 
have a complete set of memories for 
each one of them. "You mean, the 
indiscretions were deliberate?” 

"Your vigilance and loyalty made 
it necessary for them to resort to 
these fantastic expedients, and your 
vigilance defeated them as fast as 
they came to your notice. Well, today, 
Prince Travann and I struck back. I 
may tell you, in confidence, that every 
one of the conspirators is dead. Killed 
in this afternoon’s rioting — which 
was incited for that purpose by Prince 
Travann.” 

"Then — Then there will be no 
more plots against your life?” There 
was a note of regret in the old man’s 
voice. 

"No more. Your Venerable High- 
ness.” 

"But — What did Your Majesty 
call me?” he asked incredulously. 

"I took the honor of being the first 
to address you by your new title, 
Prince-Counselor Dorflay.” 

He left the old man overcome, and 
blubbering happily on the shoulder 
of the Crown Prince, who - winked 
at his father out of the screen. Prince 
Travann had gotten a couple of fresh 
drinks from the robot and handed 
one to him when he returned to his 
chair. 

"He’ll be finding the Bench of 



Counselors riddled with treason in- 
side a week,” Travann said. "You 
handled that just right, though. Am 
other case of making problems solve 
each other.” 

"You were telling me about a plot 
you’d discovered.” 

"Oh, yes; this is one to top Dor- 
fiay’s best efforts. All the voting-bloc 
bosses on Odin are in a conspiracy 
to start a civil war to give them a 
chance to loot the planet. There isn’t 
a word of truth in it, of course, but 
it’ll do' to arrest and hold them for 
a few days, and by that time some of 
my undercovers will be in control of 
every nonworker vote on the planet. 
After all, the Cartels put an end to 
competition in every other business; 
why not a Voting Cartel, too? Then, 
whenever there’s an election, we just 
advertise for bids.” 

"Why, that would mean absolute 
control — ” 

"Of the nonworking vote, yes. And 
I’ll guarantee, personally, that in five 
years the politics of Odin will have 
become so unbearably corrupt and 
abusive that the intellectuals, the 
technicians, the business people, even 
the nobility, will be flocking to the 
polls to vote, and if only half of 
them turn out, they’ll snow the non- 
workers under. And that’ll mean, 
eventually, an end to vote-selling, and 
the nonworkers’ll have to find work. 
We’ll find it for them.” 

"Great and frightening changes.” 
Yorn Travann laughed; he recogniz- 
ed the phrase. Probably started it him- 
self. Paul lifted his glass. "To the 
Minister of Disturbance!” 



MINISTRY OF DISTURBANCE 



45 



"Your Majesty!” They drank to 
each other, and then Yorn Travann 
said, "We had a lot of wild dreams, 
when we were boys; it looks as 
though we’re starting to make some 
of them come tme. You know, when 
we were in the University, the stu- 
dents would never have done what 
they did today. They didn't even do 
it ten years ago, when Vann Evaratt 
was dismissed.” 

"And Van Evaratt’s pupil came 
back to Odin and touched this whole 
thing off.” He thought for a mo- 
ment. "I wonder what Faress has, in 
that anticipation effect.” 

"I think I can see what can come 
out of it. If he can propagate a wave 



that behaves like those micropositos, 
we may not have to depend on ships 
for communication. We may be 
able, some day, to screen Baldur or 
Vishnu or Aton or Thor as easily as 
you screened Dorflay, up in the moun- 
tains.” He thought silently for a mo- 
ment. "I don’t know whether that 
would be good or bad. But it would 
be new, and that’s what matters. 
That’s the only thing that matters.” 
"Flower Festivals,” Paul said, and, 
when Yorn Travann wanted to know 
what he meant, he told him. "When 
Princess Olva’s Empress, she’s going 
to curse the name of Klenn Faress. 
Flower Festivals, all around the gal- 
axy, without end.” 



THE END 



IN TIMES TO COME 

Earth has a moon that’s big, and fairly close, and very encouraging to 
development of space travel. And Earth has a night sky thick with stars. That 
these things have long influenced Man in his psychology, any glance at poetry 
can show. 

And Man’s adapted to such a star-lit, moon-lit world. What would happen 
to men who moved to a fair, green, Earth-like world . . . out at the farthest 
edge of the galaxy, where most of the year the nights were dark, not with 
clouds, but with the utter absence of any other star or moon or planet? 

A. Bertram Chandler, in next month’s story "To Run the Rim” .suggests 
that really open skies might not have the meaning of "freedom” — but of 
crushing loneliness. 

The Editor. 



46 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 



TRIGGERMAN 




The essential requirements of a first- 
class triggerman are two: that he know 
how to pull the trigger — and when not to! 

BY J. F. BONE 



TRIGGERMAN 



Illustrated by van Dongen 

47 



ENERAL Alastair French 
was probably the most 
important man in the 
Western Hemisphere 
from the hours of 0800 
to 1600. Yet all he did was sit in a 
windowless room buried deeply un- 
derground, facing a desk that stood 
against a wall. The wall was studded 
with built-in mechanisms. A line of 
twenty-four-hour clocks was inset 
near the ceiling, showing the corre- 
sponding times in all time zones on 
Earth.' Two huge TV screens below 
the clocks were flanked on each side 
by loud-speaker systems. The desk 
was bare except for three telephones 
of different colors — red, blue, and 
white — and a polished plastic slab 
inset with a number of white buttons 
framing a larger one whose red sur- 
face was the color of fresh blood. A 
thick carpet, a chair of peculiar de- 
sign with broad flat arms, and an ash 
tray completed the furnishings. 
Warmed and humidified air circulated 
through the room from concealed 
grilles at floor level. The walls of the 
room were painted a soft restful gray, 
that softened the indirect lighting. 
The door was steel arid equipped 
with a time lock. 

The exact location of the room and 
the Center that served it was proba- 
bly the best kept secret in the West- 
ern world. Ivan would probably give 
a good per cent of the Soviet tax take 
to know precisely where it was, just 
as the West would give a similar 
amount to know where Ivan’s Center 
was located. Yet despite the fact that 
its location was remote, the man be- 

48 



hind the desk was in intimate contact 
with every major military point in 
the Western Alliance. The red tele- 
phone was a direct connection to the 
White House. The blue was a line 
that reached to the headquarters of 
the joint Chiefs of Staff and to the 
emergency Capitol hidden in the hills 
of West Virginia. And the white tele- 
phone connected by priority lines 
with every military center and base 
in the world that was under Allied 
control. 

General French was that awesome 
individual often joked about by TV 
comics who didn’t know that he real- 
ly existed. He was the man who could 
push the button that would start 
World War III! 

French was aware of his responsi- 
bilities and took them seriously. By 
nature he was a serious man, but, 
after three years of living with ulti- 
mate responsibility, it was no longer 
the crushing burden that it was at first 
when the Psychological Board select- 
ed him as one of the most inherently 
stable men on Earth. He was not or- 
dinarily a happy man; his job, and 
the steadily deteriorating world situ- 
ation precluded that, but this day was 
a bright exception. The winter morn- 
ing had been extraordinarily beauti- 
ful, and he loved beauty with the 
passion of a-n artist. A flaming sun- 
rise had lighted the whole Eastern 
sky with golden glory, and the crisp 
cold air stimulated his senses to appre- 
ciate it. It was much too lovely for 
thoughts of war and death. 

He opened the door of the room 
precisely at 0800, as he had done for 




ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 




three years, and watched a round, 
pink-cheeked man in a gray suit rise 
from the chair behind the desk. 
Kleinmeister, he thought, neither 
looked like a general nor like a po- 
tential executioner of half the world. 
He was a Santa Claus without a 
beard. But appearances were deceiv- 
ing. Hans Kleinmeister could, with- 
out regret kill half the world if he 
thought it was necessary. The two 
men shook hands, a ritual gesture 
that marked the changing of the 
guard, and French sank into the 
padded chair behind the desk. 

"It’s a beautiful day outside, 
Hans,” he remarked as he settled his 
stocky, compact body into the auto- 
matically adjusting plastifoam. "I 
envy you the pleasure of it.” 

"I don’t envy you, Al,” Kleinmeis- 
ter said. "I’m just glad it’s all over 
for another twenty-four hours. This 
waiting gets on the nerves.” Klein- 
meister grinned as he left the room. 
The steel door thudded into place 
behind him and the time lock click- 
ed. For the next eight hours French 
would be alone. 

He sighed. It was too bad that he 
had to be confined indoors on a day 
like this one promised to be, but 
there was no help for it. He shifted 
luxuriously in the chair. It was the 
most comfortable seat that the mind 
and ingenuity of man could contrive. 
It had to be. The man who sat in it 
must have every comfort. He must 
want for nothing. And above all he 
must not be irritated or annoyed. His 
brain must be free to evaluate and 
decide — and nothing must distract the 



functioning of that brain. Physical 
comfort was a means to that end— 
and the chair provided it. French 
felt soothed in the gentle caress of 
the upholstery. 

The familiar feeling of detach- 
ment swept over him as he checked 
the room. Nominally, he was respon- 
sible to the President and the Joint 
Chiefs of Staff, but practically he was 
responsible to no one. No hand but 
his could set in motion the forces of 
massive retaliation that had hung 
over aggression for the past twenty 
years. Without his sanction no inter- 
- continental or intermediate range 
missile could leave its rack. He was 
the final authority, the ultimate judge, 
and the executioner if need be — a 
position thrust upon him after years 
of intensive tests and screening. In 
this room he was as close to a god 
as any man had been since the be- 
ginning of time. 

French shrugged and touched one 
of the white buttons on the panel. 

"Yes, sir?” an inquiring voice 
■came from one of the speakers. 

"A magazine and a cup of coffee,” 
said General French. 

"What magazine, sir?” 

"Something light — something with 
pictures. Use your judgment.” 

"Yes, sir.” 

French grinned. By now the word 
was going around Center that the Old 
Man was in a good humor today. A 
cup of coffee rose from a well in one 
of the broad arms of the chair, and 
a magazine extruded from a slot in 
its side. French opened the magazine 
and sipped the coffee. General Craig, 

49 



TRIGGERMAN 



his relief, would be here in less than 
eight hours, which would leave him 
the enjoyment of the second best part 
of the day if the dawn was any in- 
dication. He hoped the sunset would 
be worthy of its dawn. 

He looked at the center clock. The 
hands read 0817 . . . 



At Station 2 along the Dew Line 
the hands of the station clock read 
1217. Although it was high noon it 
was dark outside, lightened only by 
a faint glow to the south where the 
winter sun strove vainly to appear 
above the horizon. The air was clear, 
and the stars shone out of the blue- 
black sky of the polar regions. A 
radarman bending over his scope 
stiffened. "Bogey!” he snapped, 
"Azimuth 0200, coming up fast!” 

The bogey came in over the north 
polar cap, slanting downward 
through the tenuous wisps of upper 
atmosphere. The gases ripped at its 
metallic sides with friction and oxida- 
tion. Great gouts of flaming brilliance 
spurted from its incandescent outer 
surface boiling away to leave a trail 
of sparkling scintillation in its wake. 
It came with enormous speed, whip- 
ping over the Station almost before 
the operator could hit the general 
alarm. 

The tracking radar of the main 
line converged upon the target. Elec- 
tronic computers analyzed its size, 
speed and flight path, passing the in- 
formation to the batteries of inter- 
ceptor missiles in the sector. "Locked 
on,” a gunnery officer announced in 
a bored tone, "Fire two.” He smiled. 

50 



Ivan was testing again. It was almost 
routine, this business of one side or 
the other sending over a pilot missile. 
It was the acid test. If the defense 
network couldn’t get it, perhaps 
others would come over — perhaps not. 
It was all part of the cold war. 

Miles away two missiles leaped 
from their ramps flashing skyward on 
flaming rockets. The gunnery officer 
waited a moment and then swore. 
"Missed, by damn! It looks like 
Ivan’s got something new.” He flip- 
ped a switch. "Reserve line, stand 
by” he said. "Bogey coming over. 
Course 0200.” 

"Got her,” a voice came from the 
speaker of the command set. "All 
stations in range fire four — salvo!” 
"My God what’s in that thing! 
Warn Stateside! Execute!” 

"All stations Eastseaboard Outer 
Defense Area! Bogey coming over!” 
"Red Alert, all areas!” a commu- 
nications man said urgently into a 
microphone. "Ivan’s got something 
this time! General evacuation plan 
Boston to Richmond Plan One ! Exe- 
cute!” 

"Outer Perimeter Fire Pattern B!” 
"Center! Emergency Priority! Gen- 
eral, there’s a bogey coming in. East- 
seaboard sector. It’s passed the outer 
lines, and nothing’s touched it so far. 
It’s the damndest thing you ever saw! 
Too fast for interception. Estimated 
target area Boston-Richmond. For 
evaluation — !” 

"Sector perimeter on target, sir!” 
"Fire twenty, Pattern C!” 

All along the flight path of the 
bogey, missile launchers hurled their 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 



cargoes of death into the sky. A mov- 
ing pattern formed in front of the 
plunging object that now was flaming 
brightly enough to be seen in the cold 
northern daylight. Missiles struck, 
detonated, and were absorbed into the 
ravening flames around the object, 
but it came on with unabated speed, 
a hissing roaring mass of destruc- 
tion ! 

"God! It’s still coming in!” an 
anguished voice wailed. "I told them 
we needed nuclear warheads for close- 
in defense!” 

More missiles swept aloft, but the 
bogey was now so low that both hu- 
man and electronic sensings were too 
slow. An instantaneous blast of sear- 
ing heat flashed across the land in its 
wake, crisping anything flammable in 
its path. Hundreds of tiny fires broke 
out, most of which were quickly ex- 
tinguished, but others burned violent- 
ly. A gas refinery in Utica exploded. 
Other damage of a minor nature was 
done in Scranton and Wilkes Barre. 
The reports were mixed with military 
orders and the flare of missiles and 
the crack of artillery hurling box bar- 
rages into the sky. But it was futile. 
The target was moving almost too 
fast to be seen, and by the time the 
missiles and projectiles reached in- 
tercept point the target was gone, 
drawing away from the fastest de- 
fense devices with almost contemptu- 
ous ease. 

General French sat upright in his 
chair. The peaceful expression vanish- 
ed from his face to be replaced by a 
hard intent look, as his eyes flicked 



from phones to TV screen. The series 
of tracking stations, broadcasting over 
wire, sent their images in to be edited 
and projected on the screens in 
French’s room. Their observations ap- 
peared at frighteningly short inter- 
vals. 

French stared at the flaring dot 
that swept across the screens. It could 
not be a missile, unless — his mind 
faltered at the thought — the Russians 
were farther advanced than anyone 
had expected. They might be at that 
— after all they had surprised the 
world with sputnik not too many 
years ago, and the West was forced 
to work like fiends to catch up. 

"Target confirmed,” one of the 
speakers announced with unearthly 
calm. "It’s Washington!” 

The speaker to the left of the. 
screen broke into life. "This is Conel- 
rad,” it said. "This is not a test, re- 
peat — this is not a test! The voice 
faded as another station took over. 
"A transpolar missile is headed south 
along the eastern seaboard. Target 
Washington. Plan One. Evacuation 
time thirty seconds — 

Thirty seconds! French’s mind re- 
coiled. Washington was dead! You 
couldn’t go anywhere in thirty sec- 
onds! His hand moved toward the 
red button. This was it! 

The missile on the screen was 
brighter now. It flamed like a minia- 
ture sun, and the sound of its passage 
was that of a million souls in tor- 
ment! "It can't stand much more of 
that,” French breathed. "It’ll burn 
up!” 

"New York Sector — bogey at 

51 



TRIGGEEMAN 



twelve o'clock — high! God! Look 
at it!” 

The glare of the thing filled the 
screen. 

The blue phone rang. "Center,” 
French said. He waited and then laid 
the phone down. The line was dead. 

"Flash!” Conelrad said. "The 
enemy missile has struck south of 
New York. A tremendous flash was 
seen fifteen seconds ago by observers 
in civilian defense spotting nets . . . 
No sound of the explosion as yet . . . 
More information — triangulation of 
the explosion indicates that it has 
struck the nation’s capital! Our cen- 
ter of government has been destroy- 
ed !” There was a short silence brok- 
en by a faint voice "Oh my God ! — - 
all those poor people!” 

The red phone rang. French pick- 
ed it up. "Center,” he said. 

The phone squawked at him. 

"Your authority?” French queried 
dully. He paused and his face turned 
an angry red. "Just who do you think 
you are colonel? I’ll take orders from 
the Chief — but no one else ! Now get 
off that line ! . . . Oh, I see. Then it’s 
my responsibility? ... All right I 
accept it — now leave me alone!” He 
put the phone gently back on the 
cradle. A fine beading of sweat dot- 
ted his forehead. This was the situa- 
tion he had never let himself think 
would occur. The President was dead. 
The Joint Chiefs were dead. He was 
on his own until some sort of gov- 
ernment could be formed. 

Should he wait and let Ivan ex- 
ploit his advantage, or should he 
strike ? Oddly he wondered what his 

52 



alter ego in Russia was doing at this 
moment. Was he proud of having 
struck this blow — or was he fright- 
ened. French smiled grimly. If he 
were in Ivan’s shoes, he’d be scared 
to death ! He shivered. For the first 
time in yea<rs he felt the full weight 
of the responsibility that was his. 

The red phone rang again. 

"Center — French here . . . Who’s 
that? . . . Oh yes, sir, Mr. Vice . . . er 
Mr. President! ... Yes sir, it’s a 
terrible thing . . . What have I done ? 
Well, nothing yet, sir. A single bogey 
like that doesn’t feel right. I’m wait- 
ing for the follow up that’ll confirm 
... Yes sir I know — but do you want 
to take the responsibility for destroy- 
ing the world? What if it wasn’t 
Ivan’s? Have you thought of that? 

. . . Yes, sir, it’s my judgment that 
we wait ... No sir, I don’t think so, 
if Ivan’s back of this we’ll have more 
coming, and if we do I’ll fire . . . 
No sir, I will not take that responsi- 
bility . . . Yes, I know Washington’s 
destroyed, but we still have no proof 
of Ivan’s guilt. Long-range radar has 
not reported any activity in Russia. 
. . . Sorry, sir, I can’t see it that way 
— and you can’t relieve me until 1600 
hours . . .Yes, sir, I realize what I’m 
doing . . . Very well, sir, if that’s the 
way you want it I’ll resign at 1600 
hours. Good-by.” French dropped the 
phone into its cradle and wiped his 
forehead. He had just thrown his 
career out of the window, but that 
was another thing that couldn’t be 
helped. The President was hysterical 
now. Maybe he’d calm down later. 

"Flash!” the radio said. "Radio 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 



Moscow denies that the missile which 
destroyed Washington was one of 
theirs. They insist that it is a capitalist 
trick to make them responsible for 
World War III. The Premier accuses 
the United States . . . hey! wait a 
minute ! . . . accuses the United States 
of trying to foment war, but to show 
the good faith of the Soviet Union, 
he will open the country to UN in- 
spection to prove once and for all that 
the Soviet does not and has not in- 
tended nuclear aggression. He pro- 
poses that a UN team investigate the 
wreckage of Washington to determine 
whether the destruction was actually 
caused by a missile. Hah ! Just what 
in hell does he think caused it?” 
French grinned thinly. Words like 
the last were seldom heard on the lips 
of commentators. The folks outside 
were pretty wrought up. There was 
hysteria in almost every word that had 
come into the office. But it hadn’t 
moved him yet. His finger, was still 
off the trigger. He picked up the 
white phone. "Get me Dew Line 
Headquarters,” he said. "Hello Dew 
Line, this is French at Center. Any 
more bogeys? . .. . No? . . . That’s 
good . . . No, we’re still holding off. 
. . . Why? . . . Any fool wotdd know 
why if he stopped to think!” He 
slammed the phone back into its 
cradle. Damn fools howling for war ! 
Just who did they think would win 
it? Sure, it would be easy to start 
things rolling. All he had to do was 
push the button. He stared at it with 
fascinated eyes. Nearly three billion 
lives lay on that polished plastic 
surface, and he could snuff most of 



them out with one jab of a finger. 

"Sir!” a voice broke from the 
speaker. "What’s the word — are we 
in it yet?” 

"Not yet, Jimmy.” 

"Thank God!” the voice sounded 
relieved. "Just hang on, sir. We know 
they’re pressuring you, but they’ll stop 
screaming for blood once they have 
time to think.” 

"I hope so,” French said. He 
chuckled without humor. The person- 
nel at Center knew what nuclear war 
would be like. Most of them had ex- 
perience at Frenchman’s Flat. They 
didn’t want any part of it if it could 
be avoided. And neither did he. 

The hours dragged by. The phones 
rang, and Conelrad kept reporting — 
giving advice and directions for evac- 
uation of the cities. All the nation 
was stalled in the hugest traffic jam 
in history. Some of it couldn’t help 
seeping in, even through the censor- 
ship. There was danger in too much 
of anything, and obviously the coun- 
try was overmechanized. By now, 
French was certain that Russia was 
innocent. If she wasn’t, Ivan would 
have struck in force by now. He won- 
dered how his opposite number in 
Russia was taking it. Was the man 
crouched over his control board wait- 
ing for the cloud of capitalist missiles 
to appear over the horizon? Or was 
he, too, fingering a red button debat- 
ing whether or not to strike before it 
was too late. 

"Flash!” the radio said. "Radio 
Moscow offers immediate entry to any 
UN inspection team authorized by the 

53 



TRIGGERMAN 



General Assembly. The Presidium 
has met and announces that under no 
circumstances will Russia take any ag- 
gressive action. They repeat that the 
missile was not theirs, and suggest 
that it might have originated from 
some other nation desirous of foment- 
ing war between the Great Powers 
. . . ah Nuts!” 

"That’s about as close to surrender 
as they dare come,” French murmur- 
ed softly. "They’re scared green — 
but then who wouldn’t be?” He look- 
ed at the local clock. It read 1410. 
Less than two hours to go before the 
time lock opened and unimaginative 
Jim Craig came through that door to 
take his place. If the President called 
with Craig in the seat, the executive 
orders would be obeyed. He picked 
up the white phone. 

"Get me the Commanding General 
of the Second Army,’’ he said. He 
waited a moment. "Hello George, this 
is A1 at Center. How you doing? 
Bad, huh? No, we’re holding off . . . 
Now hold it, George. That’s not what 
I called for. I don’t need moral sup- 
port. I want information. Have your 
radiac crews checked the Washington 
Area yet? . . . They haven’t. Why 
not? Get them on the ball ! Ivan keeps 
insisting that that bogey wasn’t his 
and the facts seem to indicate he’s 
telling the truth for once, but we’re 
going to blast if he can't prove it! I 
want the dope on radioactivity in that 
area and I want it now ! ... If you 
don’t want to issue an order — call for 
volunteers ... So they might get a 
lethal dose — so what ? . . . Offer them 
a medal. There’s always someone 

54 



who’d walk into hell for the chance 
of getting a medal. Now get crack- 
ing! . . . Yes, that's an order.” 

The radio came on again. "First 
reports of the damage in Washing- 
ton,” it chattered. "A shielded Air 
Force reconnaissance plane has flown 
over the blast area, taking pictures 
and making an aerial survey of fall- 
out intensity. The Capitol is a sham- 
bles. Ground Zero was approximately 
in the center of Pennsylvania Avenue. 
There is a tremendous crater over a 
half mile wide, and around that for 
nearly two miles there is literally 
nothing! The Capitol is gone. Over 
ninety-eight per cent of the city is 
destroyed. Huge fires are raging in 
Alexandria and the outskirts. The 
Potomac bridges are down. The de- 
struction is inconceivable. The land- 
marks of our — ” 

French grabbed the white phone. 
"Find out who the Air Force com- 
mander was who sent up that recon 
plane over Washington!” he barked. 
"I don’t know who he is — but get 
him now\” He waited for three min- 
utes. "So it was you, Willoughby! I 
thought it might be. This is French 
at Center. What did that recon find? 
... It did hey? . . . Well now, isn’t 
that simply wonderful! You stupid 
publicity crazy fool ! What do you 
mean by withholding vital informa- 
tion ! Do you realize that I’ve been 
sitting here with my finger on the but- 
ton ready to kill half the earth’s 
population while you’ve been flirting 
around with reporters ? _ . . Dammit ! 
That’s no excuse! You should be 
cashiered — and if I have any influ- 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 



ence around here tomorrow, I’ll see 
that you are. As it is, you’re relieved 
as of now! . . . What do you mean 
I can’t do that ? . . . Read your regu- 
lations again, and then get out of 
that office and place yourself under 
arrest in quarters! Turn over your 
command to your executive officer ! 
You utter driveling fool! . . . 
Aaagh!!” French snarled as he 
slammed the phone back. 

It began ringing again immediate- 
ly. "French here ... Yes, George . . . 
You have? . . . You Rid? ... It isn’t? 
... I thought so. We’ve been barking 
up the wrong tree this time. It was an 
act of God! ... Yes, I said an act 
of God! Remember that crater out 
in Arizona? Well, this is the same 
thing — a meteor! . . . Yes, Ivan’s 
still quiet. Not a peep out of Iiim. 
The Dew Line reports no activity.’’ 

The blue phone began to ring. 
French looked at it. "O.K., George — 
apology accepted. I know how you 
feel.’’ He hung up and lifted the blue 
phone. "Yes, Mr. President,” he said. 
"Yes, sir. You’ve heard the news I 
suppose . . . You’ve had confirma- 
tion from Lick Observatory? ... Yes, 
sir, I'll stay here if you wish . . . No, 
sir, I’m perfectly willing to act. It was 
just that this never did look right — 
and thank God that you understand 
astronomy, sir. ... Of course I’ll stay 
until the emergency is over, but you’ll 
have to tell General Craig . . . Who’s 
Craig? — why he’s my relief, sir.” 
French looked at the clock. "He 
comes on in twenty minutes . . . Well, 
thank you, sir. I never thought that 



I’d get a commendation for not obey- 
ing orders.” 

French sighed and hung up. Sense 
was beginning to percolate through 
the shock. People were beginning to 
think again. He sighed. This should 
teach a needed lesson. He made a 
mental note of it. If he had anything 
to say about the make-up of Center 
from now on — there’d be an astrono- 
mer on the staff, and a few more of 
them scattered out on the Dew Line 
and the outpost groups. It was virtual- 
ly certain now that the Capitol was 
struck by a meteorite. There was no 
radioactivity. It had been an act of 
God — or at least not an act of war. 
The destruction was terrible, but it 
could have been worse if either he or 
his alter ego in Russia had lost con- 
trol and pushed the buttons. He 
thought idly that he’d like to meet the 
Ivan who ran their Center. 

"The proposals of the Soviet gov- 
ernment,” the radio interrupted, 
"have been accepted by the UN. An 
inspection team is en route to Russia, 
and others will follow as quickly as 
possible. Meanwhile the UN has re- 
quested a cease-fire assurance from 
the United States, warning that the 
start of a nuclear war would be the 
end of everything.” The announcer’s 
voice held a note of grim humor. "So 
far, there has been no word from 
Washington concerning these propo- 
sals.” 

French chuckled. It might not be 
in the best taste, and it might be 
graveyard humor — but it was a 
healthy sign. 



TRIGGERMAN 



THE END 



55 




PIECES OF. 



It ’s been said that “It ain’t what you don’t 
know that hurts you . . . it’s all them things 
you know that ain’t so.” The People’s State 
knew exactly what little Donald was . . . 



Illustrated by Freas 
ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 



V 





HE pilot cut his engines 
with celebrated Swiss 
precision and the craft 
settled into its groves 
easily, gently. 

Donald said "Confound it, I think 
I shall never quite get used to take- 
off and landing in one of these 
monsters.” 

The pilot was politely expression- 
less. "They still operate the airlines 
. . . sir.” 

"Oh, yes, but they’re so slow, you 
know.” 

"They are that,” the pilot said. 
"Well, here we are. Immigration 
and Customs are over in that direc- 
tion.” 



'Tve been here before,” Donald 
said. 

The Swiss did little more than 
glance at his passport. Neutral for 
five hundred years, diplomatic im- 
munity was still meaningful here. He 
made arrangements for a limousine, 
tossed his brief case into the back 



and eighty pounds of man and had 
been an Alpine guide back when 
there had still been a tourist trade. 
He grunted. 

At the border, Donald checked his 
brief case with the Swiss authorities 
after emptying his pockets into it, 
and then, passport in hand, crossed 
over. 

The guard began to snap to at- 
tention, took another look at him, 
then jerked a thumb at the -brick, 
glass and chrome building ahead, 
Donald had been here before, too, so 
he walked quickly ahead without ask- 
ing directions. 

In all it took some two hours in- 
cluding the medical inspection and 
his change of clothing. What little 
he had brought with him, only ex- 
cepting the diplomatic passport, was 
left in check. Finally he was led to 
the desk of the Colonel of the 
People’s Police. 

Hie Colonel said, "Sit down.” 
Your application says you are an at- 



.THE GAME 



and sat up front with the chauffeur. 

The ride to the border took them 
approximately an hour. 

Donald spoke only once. "I just 
love Switzerland,” he murmured. "A 
gargantuan estate with endless lawns, 
tremendous rock gardens.” 

The chauffeur was one hundred 

PIECES OF THE GAME 



BY MACK REYNOLDS 

tache at the Alger-Moroc legation of 
your country and that you wish to 
visit Vienna. Why?” 

"Oh, really now, sir,” Donald 
blinked indignantly through his thick 
lensed rimless glasses. "Diplomatic 
immunity and all that, you know.” 
"And all that,” the Colonel re- 

57 



peated. "Why are you going to Vi- 
enna ?” 

"Confound it!” Donald came to his 
full five feet two inches. "I don’t 
have to tell you. Oh, this irritates 
me so. Every time. Every time.” 

The Colonel looked at him. 

Donald said, "I’m . . . I’m going 
to Vienna to steal some of your mil- 
itary documents, or whatever you 
call them. Secret papers, or some- 
thing!” 

The granite faced police head 
glared at him, then slowly broke. He 
leaned forward and coughed, but was 
unable to disguise the amusement. 
Finally he flung himself back into the 
chair and roared his laughter. His 
two assistants, until now as flat of ex- 
pression as their commander, allowed 
themselves a smile apiece. 

“All right,” the Colonel said. 
"These forms say you want three 
days.” 

"That will be ample,” Donald said, 
attempting to suppress his own titter. 

The Colonel motioned for one of 
the aides to stamp the passport and 
then passed it to Donald himself. 
"What’s your real reason for entry — 
more or less? I have to report some- 
thing.” 

"Well,” Donald said, "confiden- 
tially, .some of the boys in Vienna 
are arranging a trip up the Danube 
to the Wachau for the heurige season, 
and I managed to secure a short va- 
cation. It was too good to miss, don’t 
you know.” 

For a brief moment the Colonel 
looked somewhat more than military. 
He said, "I was born in Krems.” He 

58 ' 



cleared his throat. "Have a glass of 
Flohhaxn to me.” 

"Of course,” Donald gushed. 
"What a pleasant thing to say, 
Colonel.” 

He left and from the Customs 
Building walked to the autocab stand 
hoping that this time he'd have no 
trouble finding one that he could 
dial completely through to Vienna. 
Such a bother, otherwise. Stopping at 
Innsbruck, stopping at Salzburg; 
stopping at Linz. Such a bother. 

In Vienna, he went directly to the 
consulate which occupied one of the 
minor Hapsburg palaces- on the 
Schottenring. There were two of the 
secret police guards near the gate but 
they had only grinned at him as he 
approached. When he was ten yards 
past one of them muttered, "Em 
Warmer.” Donald knew what the 
German idiom meant, but he didn’t 
turn; he’d heard it often enough be- 
fore. 

A slightly built butler opened the 
door and Donald handed over his hat 
and said, "I believe you’re Hawkins, 
aren’t you?” 

"Yes sir. Nice of you to remember, 
sir.” 

"Tell Mr. Abernathy that I’m 
here. He is expecting me.” 

"He told me to conduct you to the 
music room, sir. They are having a 
cocktail party. In honor of the Bra- 
zilo-Argentine economic attache, 
sir.” 

"Confound it, Hawkins, one does 
get so tired of these cocktail parties.” 

In the music room thirty or forty 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 



of the diplomatic representatives of a 
dozen nations sipped martinis, nib- 
bled on hors d’oeuvres, in the baroque 
atmosphere of Maria Theresa’s era. 
Half of the room’s furniture was an- 
tique, and gaudily uncomfortable. Its 
'occupants did little to improve the 
unlikely qualities oi the surroundings; 
they were overly obese, quite elderly, 
( some physically deformed, or some — 
like Donald — tiny in size. 

The newcomer secured a martini, 
let his eyes go idly about until they 
found the men he was seeking. He 
strolled over, murmured, "Gentle- 
men.” 

Dr. Kerns turned his plump, pink- 
ish baby face and said, "Smile when 
you say that.” And then, "Donald!" 

Donald shook hands first with 
Abernathy, the all but senile consul, 
and then with the consulate doctor. 
He said, "I thought there was to be 
a cruise this evening to Diirnstein. 
Will anyone be in shape for it?” 

Abernathy’s mouth twitched. "You 
know how it is, Donald, in Vienna. 
Just one party after another. It will 
take a trip back home just to straight- 
en myself up. But the cruise is still 
on. Intimate little affair, really, just a 
score or so. We plan to scale the hill, 
sort of a pilgrimage to the castle.” 

"Castle?” Donald said. 

"Oh, you know, Richard the Lion 
Hearted, on his way home from the 
Holy Land was kidnaped and held 
prisoner in the castle in Diirnstein 
for over a year. His faithul attendant, 
the singer Blondel, disguised himself 
as a strolling troubadour and sang his 
songs beneath each castle wall. Final- 



ly Richard heard him and managed to 
get a message out and the ransom 
was arranged.” 

"A very romantic tale,” Dr. Kerns 
said, sipping his cocktail, looking at 
Donald over the glass rim. 

The consul said, "Oh, those were 
men in those days. But here, Donald, 
you must be exhausted. I’ll - have 
Hawkins take you to your room. You 
can freshen up a bit.” 

The doctor said, "I’ll be up to 
discuss things with you later, Don- 
ald.” 

"Wonderful,” Donald said. 

The yacht was anchored in the 
Donau-Kanal near the foot of Hein- 
richsgasse. The night was beautiful, 
so three or four of them strolled over 
directly from the party. Still laugh- 
ing, still enjoying martini-gaiety. 

Donald said, "We’re being fol- 
lowed, of course.” 

"Of course,” the Caribbean League 
assistant consul chuckled. "Always.” 
Dr. Kerns’ rounded baby face 
broke into a cherubic grin. "I actual- 
ly had four of them trail me to 
Demel’s the other day when I was on 
a mission no more dangerous than to 
secure a cup of Kaffee mit Schlag 
and some Palatschinken. Four of 
them, mind you. You sometimes won- 
der where they get the manpower.” 
One of the Brazilo- Argentines took 
it up. "Well, really, when you con- 
sider how very few foreigners they 
allow, they needn’t spread their men 
very thin. But at least I’m happy they 
place the same restrictions on all of 
us. It is really quite gay, in spite of 



PIECES OF THE GAME 



69 



all the police supervision. "We’re 
just thrown together.’’ 

Dr. Kerns said in uncharacteristic 
seriousness, "I sometimes wonder if 
the move was made in an attempt 
to humiliate all foreign governments, 
or if they actually feel that there is 
less danger. You wind up persona 
non grata unless you are:” — he began 
to enumerate on his fingers — ” one, 
physically deformed; two, old as the 
Alps; three, weigh less than one hun- 
dred pounds; four, weigh more than 
three hundred; five — ” He coughed 
gently and let the sentence dribble 
away. 

"Well,” the Caribbean said, man- 
aging to find objection in that, "our 
side did lose the war, after all. And 
the way things are their side calls 
the tune. If they wish to make cer- 
tain requirements as to diplomats ac- 
credited to the People’s State, they 
are in the position to enforce them.” 

"Such a serious subject,” Donald 
protested. "I’m afraid you’re a party- 
pooper, doctor.” 

"What a horrible accusation,” 
Kerns laughed, his belly shaking. 
"But here is the yacht. I do hope the 
stewards have properly iced the Kat- 
zensprung. The difficulty with these 
chaps is that they’re so busy spying 
on us that they can’t do their 
duties.” 

At the gangplank, two People’s 
Police corporals checked their names 
and their I.D. cards. The trip had 
been arranged for weeks in advance, 
but the formalities were still to be 
observed. 

"Red tape,” Donald murmured. 

60 



"No pun intended. Red tape, red 
tape, red tape.” 

One of the police looked at him 
with less than warmth. "Are you 
criticizing our methods?” 

"Oh, confound it, no,” Donald 
said. "Your methods are your own 
business and none of mine.” 

"Yes,” the corporal said. He gave 
Donald’s passport another quick 
scrutiny, noted down something on 
his pad. 

"Oh heavens,” Donald said under 
his breath. 

The sun was setting upstream in 
the direction of what had once been 
Czechoslovakia when the consulate 
yacht finally cast off. Abernathy was 
miffed at the guests who had turned 
up so late. He had expected to spend 
the latter part of the evening attend- 
ing a heuriger in one of the smaller 
towns en route. The new wine cel- 
ebrations were going on with a vim. 

Two hours later the doctor knock- 
ed gently on Donald’s cabin door and 
slid his bulk inside after a quick 
glance up and down the corridor. He 
said quickly and briefly, "All right, 
the crew is fully into the spirit of 
the thing. Half of them are already 
tight. I'd go over the stern if I were 
you.” 

Donald took off his glasses, fum- 
bled for a moment before the small 
mirror which hung above the wash- 
bowl as he carefully placed contact 
lenses in position. Then he stripped 
quickly while the doctor took a small 
hypodermic set from an inner pocket. 
He broke a vial’s top away by rapping 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 



it smartly on the side of the wash- 
bowl, loaded the needle with quiet 
care. 

Donald stood motionless while his 
arm was swabbed, the hypodermic 
pressed home. "Confound it," he 
said, "I do hate the needle.” He pull- 
ed back the mattress to reveal clothes 
and equipment in the bunk’s bottom. 
He began to dress. 

After a minute or two he growled, 
"How long will this dextro-hornione 
shot be effective this time, Doc?” 
"Almost eight hours, Don. I can't 
give you more than that. As it is, 
it’ll take you a week to recover.” 

"I won’t need more than that — 
knock on wood. Give me a hand with 
this harness, will 3/011?” 

The holster rested below his left 
armpit. He shrugged into a leather 
Tyrolien sport jacket, concealing it. 
Then the doctor helped him into the 
rubber frogman suit. He put the 
snorkle and flippers under his left 
arm and shook hands with the roly- 
poly medical attache, grinned and 
said, "See you in the morning.” 

The doctor winced under the pres- 
sure of the hand clasp, made a face 
and said, "Stop showing off, tough 

guy-” 

Kerns let himself out the cabin 
door, walked to the end of the cor- 
ridor, looked up and down, then 
snaked his hand up to turn out the 
passageway lights. A moment later, 
the dark rubber-clad figure scurried 
past him, slid over the tiny ship’s rail 
and into the muddiness of the 
Danube. 

The doctor watched for a long 
PIECES OF THE GAME 



moment, saw nodring, not even the 
snorkle top, then turned to rejoin the 
party which was already somewhat 
on the hilarious side. 

The swimmer pushed against the 
current and toward the opposite shore 
from the one along which the yacht 
had been running. If they’d timed this 
right, the lights across the way should 
be Langenlebarn, a mile or two down 
stream from the larger town of Tul- 
len. 

They’d timed it correctly but 
they’d failed to take into full con- 
sideration the heavy current of the 
Danube, possibly the fastest flowing 
of all major navigable rivers. Even 
with the aid of his flippers, and pow- 
erful swimmer that he was, he pulled 
out a full mile below the town. 

This was bad. His knowledge of 
the country was in his head, gleaned 
from detailed maps, but he hadn’t 
expected to get this far off his plan- 
ned route. The only thing to do was 
to go upstream, locate the Langen- 
lebarn landing, where he had expect- 
ed to emerge, and start from there. 
He could Only hope there were no 
military patrols along the internation- 
al waterway at this point. 

He stripped the rubber suit off, 
found a heavy cobblestone, weighted 
the equipment down and threw it in- 
to the current. He scrambled up the 
embankment, finding at the top a 
paved path that first surprised and 
worried him. Then he understood. 
It was the cobblestone paved way 
along which horses and mules had 
once pulled barges up the Danube be- 

61 



fore the advent of steam. The path 
was still excellent, which would speed 
him up, but, on the other hand, in- 
creased the possibilities of his meet- 
ing a patrol or . . . 

A voice said, "Guten abend!” 

Don said, "Gute nacht,” and they 
passed. A young fellow and his girl. 

He certainly had a case of the 
jitters. What was the matter with 
him. He was correctly dressed and 
strolling along the river on a beauti- 
ful night. Why should anyone sus- 
pect him of being on an espionage 
mission ? 

In fifteen minutes, he had orient- 
ated himself. He debated momentarily 
whether to enter the gaslhaus, order 
a beer and go into the rest room to 
check his clothing and equipment. 
He vetoed the idea. The check wasn’t 
really necessary and the town was 
small enough for a stranger to stand 
out. Instead, he made his way toward 
the railroad station. Vienna proper 
was thirty kilometers to the southeast 
and local trains ran every hour or so. 
He timed himself in such manner 
that he spent no time at the station 
itself, but swung aboard just as the 
train was leaving. 

The conductor didn’t look at him 
twice. Merely stood before him until 
Don held out a ten ruble note. 
"Wien,” Don said. 

The seats were wooden, the wheels 
evidently innocent of a trip to the 
shop for many a year; at least they 
felt square, rather than round. What 
was there about these people that 
they pushed themselves to the point 
62 



of building military bases on the 
Moon, but had such a time replacing 
an electric light bulb on Earth? They 
seemed geniuses in one field, child- 
ren in the next. 

At the Franz Josef station he had - 
a momentary shock when he spotted 
the four People’s Police checking pa- 
pers as the train disgorged. He con- 
sidered entering the Herrnen toilet and 
investigating the possibilities of get- 
ting out a window. But then he noted 
that the check was bored routine. 
The passengers were flicking open 
worn wallets to flash bedraggled 
travel permits.. He had a set of for- 
geries to cover up any contingency 
short of a real checkup. He passed 
with the rest, flicked open his wallet 
then slid it back into his pocket with 
a motion of the automatic. 

According to his instructions it 
was the D tram that took him to his 
destination. He crossed to the little 
traffic island 'that stood before the 
bahnhof, caught the first D and 
slumped into his seat in imitation of 
a tired factory hand. He looked at 
his wrist watch; he was within a few 
minutes of calculated time. 

He dropped off the car at the 
Rathausplatz, on the Dr. Karl-Lueg- 
er-Ring, and walked briskly toward 
the right front corner of the Rathaus. 
The guards here were plentiful but 
he was still an average citizen on an 
average citizen’s business. He entered 
the civic building at the keller en- 
trance and all eyes dropped away 
from him. 

He shook his head in continued 
amazement at the motivations of these 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 



people. Here he was in one of the 
most important buildings in Central 
Europe. Had this been his own secur- 
ity minded nation, he wouldn't have 
been able to get within rifle range of 
the place. But no, the People’s State 
stressed the so-called cultural attri- 
butes of their regime. They Would/ 
never go so far as to close up the 
most famous Rathauskeller in all of 
what had once been Austria. It was 



a cultural landmark and consequently 
still open to the public. 

There were half a dozen monstrous 
rooms leading off the main hallway 
of the ancient cellars. Banquet halls, 
public dining rooms, kitchens, rest 
rooms. Don made his way to the far 
end, to the Grinzinger-Keller and 
entered. Possibly two or three hun- 
dred persons were dining, dominated 
by the famous looming seventy thou 




PIECES OF THE GAME 



6 



sand liter wine barrel. A four-piece 
heurige band was making its way 
about the tables, the musicians clad 
in lederhosen and making with violin, 
harp-guitar, accordian and even a 
portable zither. It could have been 
the Vienna of fifty years ago, the one 
great difference in the drab uniforms 
of the officers of the People’s State, 
as compared to the finery of yester- 
year's Imperial Austro-Hungarian 
roopers. 

He ordered a half liter of the 
heurige wine, told the waiter, when 
it had been brought in a Weinheber, 
that he would order later. He filled 
his glass from the age-old container, 
sat around for five or ten minutes, 
then made his way through the 
tables, obviously in search of the 
men’s room. 

The rest rooms led off the main 
hall of the keller. He ran into his 
first hazard, his first departure from 
routine. There was a sergeant of the 
People’s police stationed in the hall. 
The People’s State might have its 
shortcomings in some security meas- 
ures when culture interfered, but they 
weren’t completely foolish. 

The sergeant observed him idly as 
he went into the room marked Her- 
ren. There was no particular reason 
for him to be interested, but Don 
knew that if he didn’t emerge within 
a reasonable time the other would 
wonder why. 

A corpulent elderly Austrian com- 
plete with Franz Josef type side 
whiskers was the only other occupant 
for the moment. Don waited until 

64 



he had left, then went to the back 
of the room. Happily, there was no 
attendant. The windows were where 
reported and he stood on tiptoe and 
looked out briefly. He threw open the 
window, which led off into a below- 
ground level court, then returned to 
the entry door and stuck his head out. 

He said to the guard, his voice 
puzzled, "There is something strange 
in here. Perhaps you had better report 
it.” 

The guard pushed past him with 
one brush of a heavy arm, darted in- 
side. "Wrong? What’s wrong? 
What’d’ya mean?” 

Don pointed to the window. "It’s 
open. I thought I saw a man go 
through it, just as I entered.” 

The sergeant swore, began tugging 
at his holster, raised himself on tip- 
toe and peered through' the opening. 

Don packed the full ninety pounds 
of his weight into his effort, let the 
edge of his right hand chop sharply 
into the back of the other’s neck. He 
caught the collapsing sergeant ex- 
pertly, hauled him in the direction of 
one of the -room's booths. He held 
the other with his left arm while fish- 
ing through his pockets for a ten 
kopec coin, managed to get one into 
the slot, opened the door and dragged 
the sergeant to the seat. 

He checked, The man was dead. 
He closed the booth door behind him 
and hustled toward the window, 
vaulted up and through. Standing in 
the small court, he considered mo- 
mentarily then closed the window be- 
hind him except for a quarter inch. 
He walked ten full paces forward, 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 



made a ninety degree turn, walked 
six steps and fetched up before a 
sheer wall. 

Carefully he worked his way up it. 
A toe hold here, an age-old drain 
opening there, some wrought iron 
decorations, a broken stone, a miss- 
ing brick. 

A cjuirk of memory brought back 
to him some instruction from a moun- 
tain climbing instructor, almost ten 
years before. "There are six common 
types of foothold, large, normal, 
small, sloping, pressure and wedge. 
The feet of the rock climber must be 
as sensitive to touch as the hands of 
a surgeon.” He grinned inwardly and 
wished that the instructor were here 
now, belaying him from the cornice 
above. 

His hand fumbled at a window 
ledge, strengthened, and he pulled 
himself up. Yes, it yielded to his 
pressure — he pushed the window 
open. He wondered vaguely and 
briefly who had accomplished this, 
and at what danger. But only briefly 
— he had his own problems. 

His hand flicked under the jacket 
and the .38 Noiseless was snuggled 
in his palm. He tread quietly down 
the hall. 

At the first break in the corridor 
he waited, took several deep breaths, 
then turned the corner quickly, the 
gun at the ready. 

There were two of them before 
the door of the room that was his 
destination. It was the expected num- 
ber. Before their eyes had more than 
widened at his sudden appearance 
he had shot four times. Two bullets 



for each. One would have been suf- 
ficient in either case; they were less 
than fifteen feet away from him. 

Nevertheless, he first reloaded, 
then bent over them quickly to check 
for life before going on. No witness- 
es were possible; 

The door opened to his pressure, 
although he had been prepared if it 
hadn’t. He drew the two bodies in- 
side, left them in the middle of the 
room’s floor, their blood staining the 
thick carpeting. He closed the door 
behind him, searched for lighting. 
Damn it! Such a little thing. He 
hadn’t been informed where the light 
switch was and he had brought neith- 
er flashlight, lighter nor matches. 
Damn ! Double damn ! He had no 
time to waste stumbling about a dark 
room. 

He sank to his knees and explored 
the bodies, ran his hands over their 
pockets. The second one had matches 
in his tunic. Don struck one quickly, 
spotted a lamp on the desk, fumbled 
about until he found its switch. 

The tiny safe was built into the 
desk top itself, ingeniously. He 
brought forth his tiny burglar kit from 
an inner pocket, took out drills, was at 
work in moments. 

He flicked a quick agonizing glance 
at his watch as he labored. He was 
running five minutes overtime.' Be- 
hind him he had left the sergeant 
dead in the rest room and awaiting 
discovery. Suppose that the sergeant’s 
relief came, or a superior officer mak- 
ing his rounds? 

Ten minutes overtime. An idiotic 
thought went through his head, even 



PIECES OF THE GAME 



in the midst of his complete concen- 
tration. Should an espionage agent 
get time and half for overtime? A 
fair day’s work for a fair day’s wages. 
What were fair wages for this sort 
of overtime? 

The safe door came away and he 
plunged his hand inside. Here it was, 
the document for which he’d been 
sent. He knew no more about it than 
he needed for its identification. 

He spread it out on the desk top 
and brought forth his passport from 
his jacket pocket. He opened the 
booklet to its center, brought a pen- 
knife from his pocket and very 
carefully detached an ultra-thin trans- 
parent covering from the two center 
pages of the passport. He pressed the 
passport down against the document, 
held it there while he counted slowly 
to sixty. 

One, and two, and three, and four, 
and five . . . 

Time crept. 

When he was through, he looked 
at the passport pages. Nothing. The 
process he had just used was un- 
known to him, but his directions had 
been explicit. He shrugged and re- 
turned the passport to his pocket, 
switched the light out and hustled 
back to the hall. 

It was still clear. He retraced his 
steps. Found the window through 
which he had entered the building. 
Crawled through it. Held himself by 
finger tips and took a chance in drop- 
ping to the court below. Made it with- 
out break or sprain. Back to the 
window of the rest room. He pushed 
it open, slid through into the light 

66 



of the room beyond. A startled oc- 
cupant looked up at him and bugged 
his eyes. 

Don stepped forward, swung his 
right, fingers pointed like a spear 
into the innocent’s solar plexus. Air 
whooshed out and the other doubled 
forward. Don clipped him, expertly 
over the ear, turned and ^as on his 
way before the man’s head hit sicken- 
ly oh the tile floor. Precautionary 
measures called for his finishing the 
man off with his .38 Noiseless but he 
didn’t have the requisite heartless- 
ness. 

In the corridor beyond, Don slow- 
ed his pace. Walked with deliberation 
toward the stairs that climbed to the 
street. The Rathauskeller corridor was 
a hundred, a thousand, a million 
miles long. He was half dow'n it 
before a voice called, "Wait!” 

He hesitated only briefly. Should 
he make a dash for it? 

Useless. 

He turned. Raised his eyebrows. 

It was his waiter. He said accus- 
ingly, "You forgot to pay for your 
wine.” 

Don let the air from his lungs, 
reached into a pocket. "Sorry. Forgot. 
I had something on my mind. Here, 
And here is something extra.” 

He continued on his way. Out the 
entrance. Past the police eyes again. 
Would any of them wonder why he 
had spent so little time in the Rath- 
auskeller? Too short a time to have 
dined? 

Of course not. There were too 
many diners below for them to re- 
member individuals. 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 



He caught the D tram again, going 
in the opposite direction, retraced his 
way to the Franz Josef bahnhof and 
waited a quarter hour for a train to 
Krems. He had missed the one his 
schedule had called for. 

Waiting was death. He had no idea 
how long it would take for the ma- 
chinery of the People’s police to move 
into high. Without doubt it was al- 
ready in low gear and shifting fast. 

Krems was two hours away and 
across the Danube. The first city of 
the Wachau section, Austria’s wine 
center. 

He couldn’t risk taking a local bus 
from Krems to Diirnstein, eight kilo- 
meters further on; he couldn’t even 
risk taking a local milk-run train. 
In both cases his face might be re- 
membered by driver, conductor or 
fellow passenger. He walked it. 

When the road edged the river a 
mile or so out of town, he waited for 
a stretch empty of houses and one by 
one scaled his weapons, burglar kit 
and other equipment into the waters 
until finally he retained nothing ex- 
cept clothes and the passport. 

It was early morning when he 
reeled up to the yacht’s gangplank. 
The watch, who looked as though he 
suffered hangover himself, eyed him. 
"I don’t remember you going ashore 
. . . sir.” 

Don giggled sloppily. "My,” he 
slurred, "kind of drunk out tonight, 
isn’t it?” 

"Where are the others?” the sailor 
said uncomfortably and visably won- 
dering whether to call one of the 
yacht’s officers. 

PIECES OF THE GAME 



This had been a mistake. Don 
might have realized that the doctor 
would have kept the party out in 
some heurige tavern, getting impos- 
sibly tight so that keeping tabs on 
any individual would be doubly con- 
fusing. He should have tried to locate 
the party and joined it. 

He put a fluttering hand to his 
forehead. "Oh, I left them. This 
heurige wine is so deceptive. So very 
light in taste, almost like cider. But 
. . . oh, dear — ” He held his hand 
to his mouth, let his eyes widen, and 
pushed past the gang-watch, hurry- 
ing for one of the yacht’s baths. 

The sailor grinned after him; sus- 
picions evidently allayed. 

In the cabin, Don removed his 
contact lenses, dropped them out the 
porthole, took up his glasses and re- 
stored them to his nose. He stripped 
off his clothing, garbed himself in 
pajamas. He considered for a moment 
all eventualities. He wondered what 
story the doctor had given the others 
— if any — to explain his absence. 
Well, he’d find that out tomorrow. 
Meanwhile, he’d have to sleep off 
the balance of the effects of the dex- 
tro-hormone shot. That was no 
problem, it was fading fast. The 
aftermath would come in a day or 
two and he’d be limp as a dishrag; 
in a way, he looked forward to it. A 
couple of weeks in a sanitarium. He 
didn’t know how good an act he’d 
put on for the sailor at the gangplank 
a few minutes ago but an act wasn’t 
going to do tomorrow; there'd prob- 
ably be a double medical test. Only 

67 



the physically delicate were not 
found persona non grata when ac- 
credited to the People's State or even 
allowed to visit there. 

In the morning, the representatives 
of the People’s police were on hand 
in force. They shook down the yacht 
in careful detail. Questioned the 
guests at length in spite of the fact 
that on the face of it they alibied each 
other and were alibied by the crew. 

In the lounge, Donald was saying 
to the Caribbean attache, "Confound 
it, I shall leave today. Back to my job 
in Rabat. My health isn’t up to this 
sort of thing all the time. It just 
isn’t fun to come here and see all you 
boys. It just isn’t fun! All this non- 
sense.’’ 

"Damn it, quiet!” one of the 
police captains snarled at him. "I 
can’t • stand the chattering of 

you . . 

A lieutenant colonel looked at him. 
"That will be all, captain.” 

"Yes, sir,” the captain swallowed, 
but the nausea was still in his face. 

"Well, really,” Donald demured. 

The doctor had been going through 
a session with one of the interroga- 
tors in another room. He entered now 
and looked into Donald’s eyes. 
"Donald, you look a bit the worst 
for wear,” he said. "Should I get 
you an aspirin ?” 

The police captain rolled his eyes 
toward the ceiling in agony, when 
Donald <jaid, "Sweet of you, but it’s 
not necessary. I did exactly what I 
wanted to do last night. Imagine, at- 
tending a real heurige! So charming.” 

Dr. Kerns said, "Wonderful Don- 

68 



aid. So nice you enjoyed yourself.” 
It was the first opportunity they’d 
had to exchange conversation. 

At the Swiss border, before the 
Colonel again, Donald protested 
strongly at the extrao'dinary precau- 
tions being taken. 

"Really now, Colonel. Do you think 
I could possibly be smuggling out the 
Hapsburg crown jewels, or — ” 

"More important than any damn 
jewels,” the official growled. 

" — Or just what. Really, this is so 
exasperating. The precautions you 
take at your border. Switzerland is 
the only entry point. I am able to 
cross with nothing at all, just noth- 
ing, not even my own clothing. Only 
my passport. And now that I’m re- 
turning you’ve even taken away my 
glasses. Really, Colonel, what do you 
think?” 

The Colonel snarled, "Three men 
were killed in Vienna the night be- 
fore last and — ” 

Donald stared at him. "Gracious, 
did you think I did it?” He assumed 
a mock pose. "I appreciate your sus- 
picions. I can just see myself, you 
know, as a super-spy chap, a sort of, 
well, desperado. Just wait until I tell 
the boys — how you detained me at 
the border.” 

The Colonel stared at him, then 
grunted. He examined again the 
medical report on the desk before 
him. On the face of it this man was 
about as dangerous as a portion of 
apple strudel. 

"All right,” he snapped. "You 
can go.” 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 



Donald reclaimed the clothing he 
had worn when he originally entered 
the People’s State, crossing to the 
Swiss side of the border where he ‘re- 
claimed his brief case and its con- 
tents. 

Ralph Borden was waiting for him 
there with a departmental turbo-car 
which he was driving himself. 

Once they were under way, Borden 
said, "You got it?” 

"Yes,” Donald said, wearily. The 
after-effects of the hypo were begin- 
ning to hit him now. He handed the 
passport to the other. “The center 
two pages, as I suppose you know. 



The chaps back at the laboratories 
should be congratulated. Certainly 
the most unique copying device I’ve 
ever seen. And all invisible.” 

Ralph Borden looked at him. He 
said, "Listen, Don, how do you feel 
after one of these missions? When 
you’ve been, well, changed and are 
in action? You had to finish off three 
men this time, didn’t you?” 

Donald put a, hand to his fore- 
head. "Ralph, don’t ask me. It’s as 
though it’s someone else altogether. 
It’s terrible. It’s just not me, Ralph.” 
Ralph cleared his throat. "Yeah,” 
he said. 



THE END 



THE ANALYTICAL LABORATORY 

In a literal sense, Christopher Anvil, James Schmitz, and Poul Anderson 
had a run for their money on the September issue reader votes. The bonus 
money goes where you readers vote it; it sort of see-sawed, before settling 
down as follows: 



PLACE 


STORY 


AUTHOR 


POINTS 


1 . 


We Have Fed Our Seas (Pt.II) 


Poul Anderson 


2.54 


2. 


Harvest Time 


James Schmitz 


2.76 


3. 


Foghead 


Christopher Anvil 


2.85 


4. 


Interview 


David Luzon Morris 


3.66 


5. 


Basic Agreement 


Avis Pabel 


4.23 



So Poul Anderson — who has been doing very well by himself by doing 
well by you, this last year or so! — gets the 1^ bonus, and Jim Schmitz gets 
the y 2 <^ a word bonus. 

May I point out that what you readers say in your reports is of acute and 
immediate interest to the authors, as well as to 

The Editor. 



PIECES OF THE GAME 



69 




THE 
QUEEN 
BEE 

BY RANDALL GARRETT 

Elissa was intransigently de- 
termined to be the Queen Bee. 
And . . . you know, she got ex- 
actly the role she demanded! 



Illustrated 
by Freas 



70 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 



HE problem was, what 
were they going to do 
with Elissa Krand? 

She was one of the 
seven people who had 
managed to get to the pilot boat of 
the interstellar liner Generatrix be- 
fore the heat from the great engines 
rendered the main body of the ship 
unlivable. As soon as the situation 
had become perfectly clear to her, 
she had gone into hysterics and Peter 
Branson, now ex-navigator of the 
Generatrix, had reluctantly felled her 
with a right cross to the jaw. 

The only trouble was, the -floor of 
the pilot boat was rapidly getting 
hotter. If the others left her there, 
she’d likely wake up full of first- and 
second-degree burns — if, considering 
the area of contact with the floor, 
she woke up at all. 

Cray Folee, the civil engineer from 
Dornax, looked strong enough. He 
was standing a little to one side, his 
eyes looking down at his hands. He 
didn’t see his hands, though; if he 
had, he wouldn’t be twisting them 
around each other that way. He had 
nerves, but he was controlling them. 

Branson made up his mind. "Mr. 
Folee, I can’t hold up this Krand girl 
and watch the instruments of the pilot 
boat at the same time. Would you 
take over?’’ 

Folee looked up from his hands. 
"What? Oh. Sure.” 

He walked over to Branson and 
the girl, crouched a little to get his 
arms around her thighs, then stood 
up. She collapsed over, his right 
shoulder, and he held her there, en- 



tirely unconscious, like a sack of sand. 

That would do for now, Branson 
thought. If it became much hotter in 
the pilot boat, he’d have to think of 
something else. Folee couldn’t hold 
her that way if the evaporation of 
perspiration became absolutely neces- 
sary on every square centimeter of 
skin surface. 

Dr. Greeth, the hard-nerved, white- 
haired, little surgeon was watching 
the instrument board as Branson 
stepped over to it. The others were 
standing well back, watching Bran- 
son. 

"The velocity is still hyperbolic,” 
said Dr. Greeth coolly. "How much 
longer, do you think?” 

Branson looked at the hyperbola 
traced in glowing white across the 
violet screen. "Not long. Minutes.” 

"Why can’t we leave now? It’s 
getting hot in here!” said a voice 
behind Branson. 

Branson didn’t bother to turn 
around; he recognized Rob Darren’s 
voice. 

"The Generatrix is circling too 
fast,” he said. "The only thing that’s 
keeping us going around that planet 
down there is the gravity anchors 
that lock the ship to the center of 
the planet. The actual gravitational 
field of the planet isn’t great enough 
to keep us in an elliptical orbit at 
this velocity.” He tapped the face of 
the orbit screen. "See that dot, just 
at the bend of that line? That repre- 
sents the planet. The line represents 
the path the ship would take if the 
gravity anchors weren’t holding us.” 

Keep talking, he thought. Keep 

n 




THE QUEEN BEE 



them interested. Keep their minds 
ojf the trouble we’re in. 

"In the past few minutes, it has 
changed from a nearly flat hyperbola 
to this.” Again he tapped the screen. 
"It looks almost like a parabola now, 
because the engines are slowing us 
down.” 

Tina Darren, Rob’s wife, cleared 
her throat. Her voice, when it came, 
was calm — almost cool. "I thought 
the engines had burned up. I thought 
that’s what was causing the heat.” 

"Not exactly,” Branson said, angry 
because the girl had brought up the 
subject of heat again. He’d have to 
twist it back away somehow. "It’s 
-simply that the engines are convert- 
ing their energies into heat instead 
of velocity. Even working at mi- 
nute fraction of their normal output, 
that adds up to quite a lot of heat — 
but not enough to burn out an inter- 
stellar engine. Not yet, at least.” He 
realized that he still hadn’t changed 
the subject and cursed himself. 

"What will the screen show when 
we’ve slowed enough?” Dr. Greeth 
asked suddenly. 

Branson threw him a grateful 
glance. "Theoretically, the line would 
go from hyperbola to parabola to el- 
lipse. Actually, the parabolic orbit is 
so critical that the ship will pass that 
velocity before it can register on the 
screen. It will simply change from a 
sharply curved hyperbola to an el- 
lipse.” 

"But what’s that got to do with 
this pilot boat?” Darren asked. There 
was a faint quaver in his voice. "Do 

72 



we have to follow the path of the big 
ship?” 

"Yes. If we ait loose now, it would 
be — ” Branson paused. "Ever whirl 
a weight around on a string? If the 
string breaks, the weight flies away 
on a tangent. If we cut loose now, 
the same thing would happen to us. 
And these pilot boats don’t have 
enough power to correct an orbit like 
that. We can land from a near-circu- 
lar orbit, but not from a hyperbolic 
one.” 

"My God, it’s hot.” That was Del- 
La Thorn, the blonde. 

Branson kept his eyes on the 
screen. He could feel the perspiration 
flowing underneath his clothing. 

"We’ll have to strip,” he said. 
"Otherwise, this heat will broil us. 
We need the evaporation.” 

There was silence around him as 
he began to peel off his own jumper. 

"Tina!” It was Rob Darren’s 
shocked voice. "You can’t — ” 

"You heard what he said,” Tina 
Darren said calmly. 

More silence. 

Then: "Get away from that wall! 
You want to burn?” 

It was Folee’s voice. Branson jerk- 
ed his head around. Della Thorn was 
huddled against one corner, her eyes 
wide with fear. 

"I won’t take my clothes off,” she 
said. "You can’t make me!” 

"Get away from that wall!” Bran- 
son snapped. 

Then Dr. Greeth’s voice crackled 
through the hot air. 

"Branson! The screen!” 

Branson looked back quickly. 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 



While his head had been turned, the 
parabolalike hyperbola had become a 
near-circular ellipse. 

Without another word, Peter Bran- 
son punched the launching button. 

"Lucky!” said Folee exultantly. 
"Just plain lucky! You wouldn’t find 
a planet like this once in a dozen 
tries!” 

The pilot boat had landed in a 
forest of remarkably Earthlike trees. 
Branson was the only one of the sev- 
en who had been to Earth, but 
Earth’s fauna and flora were to be 
seen, to a greater or lesser degree, on 
every civilized planet of the galaxy. 

The trunks of the trees were mark- 
ed with vertical ridges of corklike 
bark, giving them a corrugated ap- 
pearance. Each tree seemed to have 
two or three times as many leaves as 
an Earth oak, and each leaf was 
punctured with a pattern of holes, 
making them look like like small lace 
doilies or big, green snowflakes. 

The arrangement allowed plenty of 
diffuse light to seep through to the 
forest floor, which was covered with 
a carpet of soft, wide-bladed grass. 

The filtered, greenish illumination 
gave the impression that the whole 
forest was underwater. 

The air was cool, but not cold, and 
it felt wonderful after the awful heat 
of the Generatrix. Even after the 
pilot boat had pushed itself away 
from the mother ship, the little re- 
frigerators hadn’t been able to do 
better than drop the tiny craft’s 
temperature a few degrees. The cool 
air of the new planet felt wonderful- 



ly soothing against their bare skins. 

Peter Branson sat on the trunk of 
a fallen tree and began to pull on his 
jumper. Dr. Greeth, who had already 
put his clothing back on, came over 
and sat down next to Branson. 

"If we’re careful,” he said, "and if 
we eliminate as much inbreeding as 
possible, we can have this planet 
populated within a few centuries.” 

"We?” said Branson thoughtlessly. 
Then he clamped his lips together as 
though he wanted to bite his tongue 
out. Dr. Greeth was an old man — 
very old. No man can live forever. 

The surgeon smiled wryly. "Yes, 
we. Perhaps I'm not biologically cap- 
able of being a father, but I can 
teach. Maybe I can be a sort of foster 
father.” 

"Mis ter Branson!” 

At the sound of his voice, which 
had come from directly behind him, 
Branson flicked his gaze over the 
scene in front of him. Darren and 
his wife were bolding each other 
tightly a few yards away; they were 
looking at the forest, but they obvi- 
ously had no eyes for the beauty of 
the alien landscape. 

Folee was standing near them, 
pointing at something in the trees 
while Della Thorn, still cringing in 
spite of the fact that she was again 
fully clad, watched his hand. 

That left only one. 

"Yes, Miss Krand?” said Branson 
without turning. 

She knew that he would not turn, 
so she stepped over the log and stood 
in front of him. 



THE QUEEN BEE 



12 



She was tall for a woman — a full 
six feet. Her long jet-brown hair 
fell to her shoulders, and her gray- 
green eyes glistened like gems. 

"You hit me,” she said, her voice 
icy. 

Branson looked up at her. She was 
lean and muscular — not beautiful, 
but somehow terribly, magnetically 
attractive. 

Branson nodded and started to say 
something. 

Too late. "You hit me,” she re- 
peated. "How dare you?” 

Branson sighed. "I had no choice, 
Miss Krand. You had lost control of 
yourself. You had — ” 

Again she cut him off. "I? I lost 
control of myself?” She laughed 
harshly. "A man — a big, strong man 
— strikes a girl with his fist and then 
has the temerity to say that it was 
she who lost control.” Her eyes nar- 
rowed. "May I ask why you hit me?” 

Peter Branson looked at her stead- 
ily for a moment, then he took a deep 
breath and grinned. "Sure. Go ahead 
and ask, sweetheart.” 

She opened her mouth to say some- 
thing, but this time it was Branson’s 
turn to interrupt. "When I told you 
that you would have to spend the rest 
of your life on this planet, you erupt- 
ed like a Trigevvian volcano. You 
tried to get out of the pilot boat. 
You tried to run, to put it bluntly. 

“And,” he grinned even wider, 
“you had no place to run to. If I 
hadn’t clobbered you, you’d have 
opened the air lock to the ship, 
and — ” 

Branson stopped. "What’s the mat- 



ter, Miss Krand?” He couldn’t tell 
whether the look on her face meant 
shock, hatred, anger, or actual physi- 
cal illness. 

"You’re still trying to insist on this 
stupid lie?” she asked. There was 
both arrogance and fear in her voice. 

Branson folded his hands carefully. 
"Lie?” 

She shook her head — not in nega- 
tion, but as though she were trying 
to shake off something unpleasant 
but sticky. 

"Do you honestly mean we are 
really marooned here?” she asked 
huskily. "Forever?” 

Branson smiled. “Not forever. 
Only for the rest of our lives.” 

"Is there no chance that we'll ever 
leave here?” 

Branson thought for a minute be- 
fore answering. He decided that bru- 
tality was best, right from the start. 
There was, he knew, a small — a van- 
ishingly small — chance of being 
rescued. There was no recorded in- 
stance of it in the history of the 
galaxy, but it could happen. But he 
felt that not even a faint glimmer of 
hope should be held out for this girl. 

"None whatever,” he said firmly. 
"No one else in the whole galaxy 
knows where we are. They couldn’t 
know. And they won’t even bother to 
look for us.” 

"Can’t they . . . can’t they follow 
the flight path of the Generatrix?” 

"They could,” Branson said, "but 
they won’t. That would mean search- 
ing a skewed cylinder of space about 
ten light-years in diameter and over 
eight thousand light-years long. And 



74 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 



in this part of the galaxy, that would 
include far too many suns to investi- 
gate one by one. Some one of these 
days, some high-caliber genius is go- 
ing to invent a near-instantaneous 
method of communication between 
stars — but until that day comes along, 
a marooned group will stay marooned 
until they are accidentally rediscover- 
ed. That usually takes from two to 
seven centuries. We’ll be here the 
rest of our lives.” 

Elissa Krand’s eyes blazed. "You 
can’t do this!’’ she stormed. "Do you 
know who I am? Do you think you 
can push me around like this?” 

Branson blinked. How do you 
answer a silly question like that? He 
would have blazed back at her, but 
the sudden pressure of Dr. Greeth’s 
grip on his arm made him decide to 
take the cautious course. 

"The answer is no and yes. No, I 
don’t know who you are, and yes, I 
do think I can push you around. 
Haven’t you ever heard of Brytell’s 
Law?” He kept his voice level. 

She just looked at him for a long 
time. Then, calmly, she said: "I know 
it.” And she turned and walked 
toward the grounded pilot boat. 

"We’re going to have trouble with 
that girl,” said Dr. Greeth softly, 
watching her retreating back. 

Branson furrowed his brow and 
made a small moue. "I know, I know. 
But I have a hunch that we’ll have 
even more trouble with the Darren 
couple.” 

"How so?” Dr. Greeth didn’t 
sound as though he disagreed; he 



didn’t even sound as though he really 
wanted an answer, except to find out 
Branson’s thoughts. 

Branson broke off a small bit of 
rotting bark from the tree trunk 
they were sitting on, and crumbled 
it in his lingers before answering. 

"Darren and his wife aren’t going 
to fall in with any rotation plan 
easily,” he said, dropping the broken 
grains of wood to the ground, sifting 
them thoughtfully through his fingers. 

"That can wait,” said Dr. Greeth, 
shrugging casually. "Give them six 
months; they’ll fall in line. They 
know Brytell’s Law. It’s the cultural 
heritage of half the planets of the 
galaxy.” 

"I wasn’t thinking of both the 
Darrens,” Branson said in correction. 
"That Tina seems to be a pretty com- 
petent woman. But Rob Darren — ” 
he spread his hands — "I don’t know 
how to phrase it. He seems a little 
adolescent, maybe.” 

"I watched him aboard ship,” 
Greeth said. "In some ways, your 
diagnosis is correct. What do you 
think of the Thorn woman?” 

Branson glanced at the blonde, 
who was standing across the glade 
with Folee — near him, but not too 
near. "As a snap judgment, I’d say 
she was an androphobe.” 

Dr. Greeth raised an eyebrow. 
"So? Could be. I remember seeing 
her a couple of times on shipboard, 
and she was always by herself. Well, 
we’ll have to see how she gets along 
with Folee.” 

Branson slowly turned his head un- 
til his eyes met those of the old 



THE QUEEN BEE 



surgeon. Greeth looked back calmly. 

Eventually, a smile came across 
Branson’s face. "So you have us all 
paired off, eh? And I get the Krand 
girl? I thought you liked me.” 

Dr. Greeth smiled back. "I do. 
But, more than that, I respect you. 
You could handle Della Thorn, sure; 
but so can Folee. But you’re the only 
one who could handle Elissa Krand 
— if she can be handled.” 

"We’re going to have a great old 
time here,” said Branson resignedly. 
“A great old time. I can see that al- 
ready.” 

There was never any question as to 
who would be the policy-maker of the 
group. As the only ship’s officer 
present, as well as by virtue of his 
own natural ability, Peter Branson 
would easily have won an election if 
anyone had bothered to suggest a 
vote. 

Just as obviously, Cray Folee came 
second. He was a quiet man, a strong 
man. Only by the barest margin, by 
the indefinable lack of some essential 
quality of leadership, did he lag be- 
hind Branson. 

The position of Dr. Greeth, while 
equally tacit among the seven, was 
far more subtle. Only Branson— and, 
possibly, Folee — recognized the fact 
that he was the grand vizier of the 
group. Not a leader— he could never 
be that — but a man who could be 
relied upon to think a problem 
through and give sound advice. 

Elissa Krand viewed the whole 
tiling with a tolerant smile. She 
looked at the entire proceedings as 

76 



though it were childish play-acting 
by a group of mental incompe- 
tents. 

The only time she looked even 
faintly disturbed was when Tina 
Darren repeated, from memory, the 
text of Brytell’s Law. 

. . . Article IV.: In such case as 
illustrated in the foregoing, the 
women must he isolated. All precau- 
tions must he taken to prevent any 
confusion as to parenthood. 

Article V .: In the ideal situation, 
each female would produce at least 
one female child and one male child 
by each male. Since this will not oc- 
cur in the majority of situations, it 
is recommended that . . . 

They were seated in a small circle 
on the wide-bladed grass that made 
up the forest floor. Folee, who claim- 
ed to be an expert with a Markheim, 
was holding the rifle in his hands 
and sitting somewhat uncomfortably 
on the top of the four-foot stump of 
a native tree that had been broken 
off long before. The engineer kept 
his eyes moving around the surround- 
ing forest, but he was listening to 
every word that was said. 

Branson, too, was watching. Not 
the forest, but the faces of Darren, 
Elissa, and Della. 

Brytell’s Law had been formulated 
centuries before — presumably by a 
man named Brytell— as the rule for 
human survival on an alien planet. 
Survival, not for the individual, but 
for the race. 

Tina Darren’s voice went on. As 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 




she approached Article XIV, Bran- 
son watched carefully. 

Della Thorn’s face had not chang- 
ed since the recitation had begun. 
There was fear behind the rigid mask 
of her beautiful face. It showed in 
the eyes and in the faint trembling 
of her chin. Even the Fourteenth 
Article didn’t cause any change in 
that mask. 

Rob Darren had been looking at 
the ground while his wife recited, 
but the Fourteenth Article made him 
look up. There was pain on his face, 
and a faint, seemingly undirected 
anger. 



Elissa Krand had been looking it- 
ritated, as though the whole recitation 
had been too . boring to waste time 
with, and Article XIV did nothing 
except cause her to flick a glance in 
Branson’s direction. Branson couldn't 
quite fathom the expression in that 
glance. 



Theoretically, three men and three 
women (Dt. Greeth could be exclud- 
ed from the computations) could 
produce eighteen children — one male 
and one female from each possible 
pair. 

If the ideal situation worked itself 
out, there would be the maximum 
possible variation in the genetic heri- 
tage of the second generation. 
Careful pairing of that generation 



THE QUEEN BEE 



77 



would insure the maximum possible 
variation in the race that would in- 
herit the planet. 

But during that time, the standards 
of monogamy, of marital fidelity, 
would have to be temporarily shelved. 
When the survival of the race is at 
stake, individual comforts and mor- 
als have to be pushed aside. 

Article XIV of Brytell’s Law cov- 
ered that area in detail — the timing, 
the planned rotation, and the choices. 

When Tina Darren had finished 
her recitation of the whole Law, she 
simply nodded and then went over 
and sat down by her husband. 

(I’ve got to quit using that word, 
Branson thought. There are no hus- 
bands and no wives here. The marriage 
was dissolved when the Generatrix 
blew her guts.) 

Branson stepped to the center of 
the circle. 

"You all know it, I’m sure,” he 
said firmly. "It’s the Law that has 
populated the galaxy. It applies to 
First Colonists and shipwreck survi- 
vors alike. No one — I’ll repeat that 
— no one is exempt from it. 

"We’re a small group — very small. 
We’d have better chances if there 
were thirty of us or more. But we’ll 
have to do the best we can with the 
genetic material we have to work 
with.” 

He looked around at them, watch- 
ing their expressions. 

"In a larger group, lots would be 
drawn for pairing. With us, that pro- 
cedure is neither desirable nor neces- 
sary. At least, not until the first 
Switch lime. Tina and Rob will 

78 



have their chance; I see no point in 
breaking up that combination before 
the two of them have had their op- 
portunity to produce. 

"That only leaves two possible 
sets of pairing for the remaining 
four.” 

"What about Dr. Greeth?” asked 
Tina suddenly. 

Greeth smiled his old smile. "I am 
as susceptible to feminine wiles as 
the next man, my dear,” he said dry- 
ly, "but I’m well aware of my 
limitations.” 

Tina flushed. "I’m sorry.” 

Greeth’s smile became even wider. 
"Believe me, my dear, so am I. 
Pardon me — go ahead, Mr. Bran- 
son.” 

Branson suppressed a grin. "As to 
the other pairs, I think — ” 

Elissa Krand said: "Just a moment. 
Are we to have no choice in the 
matter? Are we cattle?” 

"Just whom do you mean by 'we,' 
Miss Krand?” said Branson. 

"Why . . . why, me, and . . . 
Miss Thorn.” 

Peter Branson took a calculated 
risk. "Let’s hear from Miss Thorn 
on that. Della, if you had a choice 
between Mr. Folee and myself, 
which — ” 

"Now wait!” Elissa shouted. "I 
have a right to pick, too!” Suddenly, 
she leveled a finger at Branson. "And 
I pick you!” 

Branson looked at her sternly. "Let 
Miss Thorn finish! Della?” 

She had buried her face in her 
hands. A tremor shook her body. "It 
doesn’t matter,” she said in a muffled 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 



voice. "It really doesn’t matter.” 

Elissa Krand smiled her infuriat- 
ingly arrogant smile. "That settles it, 
then?” 

Branson sighed. "Miss Krand, for 
your information, it was settled hours 
ago. You just happened to make the 
right choice.” 

There were, of course, other things 
to decide, other matters to attend to, 
other things to do. 

Folee was a construction engineer, 
so the designing and construction of 
shelters was up to him. Wood, in 
spite of its antiquity as a construction 
material, was still used in one form 
or another throughout the galaxy. 
And Folee was familiar enough with 
it to be able to estimate its strength 
merely by flexing smaller branches 
with his powerful arms. 

According to law, the planet was 
automatically named Generatrix, so 
that any later expedition could trace 
back and find out what ship had 
carried them. Once named, the planet 
would become a part of whatever 
dialect eventually evolved in the com- 
ing centuries, and thus be preserved. 
Branson thought it would be fitting 
to hold a dedication ceremony, giv- 
ing the planet its name officially. 

Afterwards, the individual duties 
of each member were assigned. Dr. 
Greeth and Folee had their work cut 
out for them already. Surprisingly, 
Della Thorn announced that she had 
as much knowledge of wood as any- 
one — she had been an interior deco- 
rator on Aljebr III — and insisted on 
helping Folee work the native 



material. She would make chairs and 
tables and beds. 

Tina Darren could cook well 
enough to make palatable food out of 
the concentrated synthetics in the 
emergency ration locker of the pilot 
boat, so Branson appointed her head 
chef. 

Darren simply said: "Give me a 
gun. I’m going hunting.” 

"Hunting?” Branson lifted an eye- 
brow. "Do you know anything about 
it?” 

"I know how to handle a gun,” 
he said. "Aside from that, I know 
nothing more about the native fauna 
than you do. But we’ll have to have 
protein eventually.” 

"What planet are you from?” 
Branson asked suddenly. 

"Cordex.” 

Branson nodded and gave him one 
of the Markheims. Cordex was one 
of the newer worlds. That accounted 
for Tina’s knowing Brytell’s Law so 
well, and her ability to cook. And 
it accounted for Darren’s queerly con- 
flicting actions. 

The others had started planning 
their work — Folee got out the power 
cutters to show Della Thorn how to 
use them on the trees; Tina helped 
Darren get into the single suit of 
space armor on the pilot boat, help- 
ing him adjust the size so that it was 
reasonably comfortable and would 
protect him from anything that might 
decide he was good eating; Dr. 
Greeth began checking the medical 
supplies, laying them out and making 
an inventory. 

Elissa Krand was leaning back 

78 



THE QUEEN BEE 



against the big log, looking at the 
sky. She had produced a perfumed 
cigarette from somewhere and was 
smoking it lazily, watching the white 
plume of smoke drift up in the still 
air. 

She hadn’t volunteered a thing. 
Branson had suspected she wouldn’t, 
so he had waited until the others 
were busy before he approached her. 

"Well, Elissa? What can you do?” 
She looked up at him in annoy- 
ance. "Who gave you permission to 
use my . first name?” 

"I did.” Branson kept his voice- 
level. "You’re my woman from now 
until the first Switch Time. I won’t 
call you Miss Krand.” 

“I’m not your wife!” she blazed. 
"You have an almighty arrogance! 
I’m not used to being spoken to in 
that fashion!” 

Branson fought down a desire to 
boot her. "All right. You’re not my 
wife. Whatever you are, I’m going 
to call you Elissa, in preference to a 
lot of other things I could call you. 
Meanwhile, I asked what you can do ? 
Or do you feel that you need make 
no contribution to our survival?” 
Her jaw muscles tensed for a mo- 
ment, then relaxed. She looked away 
from him. "I was trained in manipu- 
lative economics. I ran corporations. 
Want to help me organize one 
here?” 

Branson ignored the sneer in her 
voice. "Later. We may have need of 
that eventually.” He didn’t really 
think so, but he wanted to placate 
her. "Meanwhile, there are more 

80 



immediate problems. Know anything 
about fabrics?” 

She looked up at him again, and 
this time, there was an almost pathet- 
ic and very childlike expression on 
her face. 

"I used to design clothing,” she 
said. "Just for fun, but I was very 
good at it. Of course, I didn’t do the 
actual work, but I made the patterns.” 

Branson nodded. "Good. You’ve 
got yourself a job. The clothes we 
have aren’t going to last forever. I’ll 
be willing to bet that Tina knows 
something of the sewing end of the 
job. Get together with her and see if 
you can come up with some ideas.” 

The arrogance came back into her 
face. "That little barbarian? What 
would a girl from Cordex know?” 

"She can cook,” snapped Branson. 
"And keep it in mind that we’re all 
barbarians now, as far as our living 
conditions are concerned.” 

Again her jaw muscles tightened, 
and she ground the cigarette savagely 
into the grass. "You’re not a bar- 
barian, Alfiter Branson — you’re an 
uncouth savage.” 

She got up and walked away 
toward Tina. 

Rob Darren came over to him, 
leaving Tina to talk with Elissa. Dar- 
ren was clad in the space armor, 
which gave a certain stiffness to his 
movements, but he could move in it 
easily enough. 

"I think this will do. Chief,” he 
said. "If something too big comes 
at me, I’ll be squashed, but I don’t 
think any claw or tooth can get at 
me.” 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 



Branson nodded absently. "It'll 
keep the smaller pests out, too. By 
the way, what’s this 'chief’ bit?” 
Darren looked puzzled for a mo- 
ment, then grinned. "Oh. We use it 
on Cordex. It just means that you’re 
the head man — the boss. Do you 
mind? I mean, is it all right?” 
Branson grinned back. "Not at all. 
It’s an honor.” He looked toward the 
west, where the orange ball of the 
primary was moving toward the hori- 
zon. "It’s getting late. We’ll all have 
to be in the pilot boat by nightfall. 
You won’t be going hunting for 
several days yet; we have to get 
things straightened up here, first. To- 
morrow, we’ll start building houses 
and a stockade.” 

Darren nodded. "If Folee will 
show me how to wield one of those 
cutters, we can get things done fast. 
But I want to get out in that forest 
as soon as possible.” 

"You will,” said Branson. "You 
will.” 

The question of food came up 
early. Were the native proteins and 
polysaccharides edible ? Some of them 
weren’t, that was a statistical certain- 
ty; some would sicken and some 
would kill. But were any of them 
food? 

Dr. Greeth appointed himself a 
one-man testing lab. In the first few 
days, while the houses and the stock- 
ade wall were going up, the doctor 
prowled around in the nearby forest, 
picking berries and digging up roots. 
He came into the kitchen of the pilot 
boat one morning with a load of 

the queen bee 



purple, melonlike globes in his arms. 

Branson was sipping hot tea from 
a cup while Tina was fussing over 
something at the stove. 

"These are for breakfast tomor- 
row,” said Greeth. 

Branson looked at the purplish 
things and then frowned a little. 
"Aren’t you running the chance of 
poisoning us all?” 

.Greeth smiled a little and shook 
his head. "I ate part of one two days 
ago. Yesterday, I ate two whole ones, 
just to make sure.” 

Tina laughed. "I wondered why 
you weren't hungry at lunch.” 

"Why’d you take the chance?” 
Branson asked. 

"Somebody had to,” said Dr. 
Greeth. "I’m pretty much expend- 
able.” 

Tina sniffed. "If you ask me, I 
think we ought to try the native 
stuff on Elissa. Nobody’ d miss hep,” 
"What’s the matter now?” Bran- 
son asked. 

Her laugh was sharp. "She thinks 
she’s a clothing designer.” 

"Isn’t she?” 

"Oh, sure. That is, if you gentle- 
men feel like strolling about Generat- 
rix in filmy party dresses. That’s all 
she knows how to make. I asked her 
about something a little more prac- 
tical, and all I got was a sneer. The 
woman is impossible.” 

"Not impossible,” corrected Dr. 
Greeth. "Not even highly improb- 
able. Just neurotic.” 

"That’s no excuse,” said Tina. 
"Della’s neurotic, too. Men — all men 
— scare her.” She flashed a grin. 



81 



"But being neurotic doesn’t keep 
me from liking her.” 

"There’s one difference,” said Dr. 
Greeth. "Della knows she’s neurotic-; 
she doesn’t blame her troubles on 
others. Elissa is convinced that all 
her troubles are someone else’s fault.” 

"Is she still designing party dress- 
es?” Branson asked. 

"I don’t know,” Tina said. "After 
I spoke to her this morning, she call- 
ed me an uncivilized little snot and 
walked off.” 

Branson finished, his tea and stood 
up. "I’ll go talk to her,” he said with 
'a sigh. He went out looking for 
Elissa Krand. 

Wonder of wonders, she was work- 
ing. Well, not exactly working; she 
was holding a basketful of pegs while 
Folee and Darren were driving them 
into the siding of one of the new 
buildings. None of the 1 three saw 
Branson approaching,- and he stop- 
ped a little ways off to watch. 

She was posing, looking as seduc- 
tive as possible in the thin silon dress 
she was wearing. Folee and Darren 
were grinning at her and holding an 
animated conversation. The scene was 
just a little too amiable to suit Peter 
Branson. 

"Elissa, come here a minute,” he 
called. "I’ve got some work for you.” 

She looked around, but didn’t 
move. "I’m busy,” she said. "I’m 
working.” 

Folee and Darren became silent 
and gave their attention to their work. 

Branson’s eyes narrowed. "Come 
here,” he repeated. 



An expression of anger crossed her 
face. It passed rapidly, but there was 
still hostility in her eyes as she walk- 
ed toward him. 

"Just who do you think you’re 
pushing around?” She asked in a taut 
voice as she came up to Branson. 

"I’m not pushing anyone around 
— yet,” Branson said. "I want to talk 
to you.” 

"I haven’t time for idle chitchat,” 
she said. "I’m not the head loafer 
around here.” She turned and started 
back toward the partly finished house. 

Branson reached out a brawny 
arm, grabbed her shoulder, and spun 
her around. "Now, you listen here. 
Miss Snotty,” he said through clench- 
ed teeth, "I’m not averse to slapping 
some sense into that head of yours.” 
"How brave of you,” she said cold- 
ly. "All right. You wanted to talk. 
Talk.” 

"I have a job for you,” Branson 
said tightly. "It’s one I know you 
can handle. Even a simpleton like 
you can learn it. Get out of that silly 
dress and put on a jumper.” 

She just stood there, glaring. 
"Come on,” he said, "get dressed. 
We’re going to get you a spade. The 
waste apparatus in the pilot boat 
takes too much power; we’re going to 
shut it off and dig slit trenches.” 

For a moment, the shock in her 
eyes covered everything else. Then 
the hostility returned. “You’re crazy! 
Do you think I’m a common digger 
robot? Do you? When the rescue 
ship comes, I’ll make you sorry you 
ever suggested such a thing!” 

"We don’t have any digger ro- 



32 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 



bots,” said Branson hotly. "And there 
isn’t going to be any rescue ship. 
Get that stupid idea out of your mind. 
Now go get on a jumper and do as 
I say!” 

"I’ll do as I please, when I 
please!” she snapped. 

Even Branson wasn’t absolutely 
sure how it happened. Something 
triggered in his brain, and a flood of 
adrenalin surged into his blood. His 
left arm came up of its own accord, 
and his open palm cracked against 
the girl’s cheek. The force of the 
blow threw her off balance, and she 
fell to the ground. 

Branson looked down at her, his 
brain clearing rapidly. 

She was dazed at first, then tears 
came into her eyes, and she shook with 
barely controlled emotion. 

She didn’t protest when he helped 
her to her feet; she didn’t say any- 
thing. The shaking stopped, and she 
just stood there, her tear-streaked 
face looking waxy in the greenish 
light. 

"You didn’t have to do that,” she 
said at last. 

"The hell I didn’t,” said Branson 
coldly. "Now go get that jumper on; 
we have work to do.” 

Elissa Krand worked. She had to 
be driven and watched, as though 
she were a work animal, but she did 
what was required of her. 

At last, the houses were finished. 
There were three small cabins for 
the couples, and a smaller one for 
Dr. Greeth which doubled as clinic 
and first-aid station. 



In addition, there was a storage 
shed where Folee had put up some 
lumber for aging. He had warned 
everyone that the green wood from 
which the sheds had been built 
would likely warp eventually, and 
he wanted seasoned wood to replace 
the green. 

Della Thorn had done wonders 
with the furniture. Instead of using 
green wood, she had made use of 
fallen branches. Each cottage was fur- 
nished completely with rough-hewn, 
but tightly made chairs and tables 
that had a rustic beauty of their own. 

On the evening of the day the 
houses were finished, Branson order- 
ed a celebration. All of them had slept 
in the pilot boat up to that time. The 
party was a sort of wedding supper. 

It was to be a real occasion, so Dr. 
Greeth presided. He even mixed a 
small amount of medical alcohol with 
a little fruit juice concentrate from 
the rapidly diminishing supplies that 
had been stored in the pilot boat. 

"It may not taste like wine,” he 
said, "but it’ll have to do. A toast, 
ladies and gentlemen, to our new 
village!” 

"What’ll we call it?” yelled Folee. 
"A village has to have a name, you 
know.” 

"How about 'Greeth’?” asked 
Della Thorn in a small voice. She 
looked frightened, but she was put- 
ting on a good face. 

"Or ’Branson’,” chimed in Tina. 

Greeth started to say something, 
but Branson stood up. "Wait a sec- 
ond! I’ve got an idea! We’ll call the 
planet Generatrix so that future ex- 



THE QUEEN BEE 



83 



plorers who find our remote offspring 
will know what ship we came from. 
By that time, we’ll have cities all 
over the place. I suggest we call this 
place 'Landing’, so they’ll know 
where we landed. What do you 
think?” 

Darren laughed. "How do we 
know there’ll be a city here by then?” 

"There will be,” said Folee posi- 
tively. "We’re only a little ways 
from the river, and it’s definitely 
navigable. This is a pretty good site 
for a city. Anyway, I second the mo- 
tion.” 

So they called it Landing, and 
toasted it with the synthetic “wine. 

Through the dinner, Peter Bran- 
son kept glancing at Elissa. This 
would be their — well, their wedding 
night. How would she react? He 



hadn’t been kind to her, he knew 
that. He’d slapped her hard once, 
and cuffed her around a couple of 
times since. And whenever she look- 
ed at him, there was hostility in her 
eyes. 

He wasn’t the only one who’d 
fought with her. Both Della and Tina 
had engaged in hair-pulling, clawing 
rows with her over relatively minor 
incidents. 

It didn’t seem to bother her, 
though. At the party, she was abso- 
lutely charming. She knew how to 
handle herself in a situation like that. 




y 


1(8 


(9 








1 




ill 


1 


.P 



84 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 



It was as though being at a party cut 
in a mental circuit that made her be- 
have as a gracious hostess should 
behave. She was especially pleasant to 
Branson, and he hardly knew how to 
react, except to retaliate in kind. 

Actually, the only jarring note in 
the party was the all-pervading fear 
in the eyes of Della Thorn. 

The following day, Rob Darren 
went out hunting. All of them had 
seen the heavy-footed herbivores that 
occasionally wandered through the 
forest. The animals ignored the hu- 
mans for the most part, but they never 
came too close to the clearing. 

"It’s time we got some fresh pro- 
tein in,” he said as he climbed into 
his armor. "There isn’t a bit left in 
the locker.” 

"Yes, there is,” Tina said as she 
helped him close the magnetic clasps. 
"I’ve been saving it.” 

"You mean we’ve been going 
without when there was plenty?” he 
asked in mock anger. 

"I .didn’t say there was plenty; 
there’s enough for one more meal. 
Now go out and get us a roast.” 
Branson who had been listening 
to the repartee with a grin on his 
face, handed Darren the Markheim. 
"I’ll keep in touch over the radio. If 
anything happens, yell. We’ll have 
someone monitoring the receiver at 
all times, and we’ll record everything 
you say, so watch your language.” 

"I will. Gimmie my lunch basket, 
cutie-pie.” Tina loaded the provisions 
pack on his back. He shrugged a lit- 
tle to make, the harness more com- 



fortable, then trudged off into the 
forest. 

"Remember,” Branson yelled after 
him, "be back within twenty-four 
hours.” 

Darren turned and waved. “I’ll 
remember. Chief. So long.” And 
then he disappeared in the green 
depths of the forest. 

Nearly eight hours later, Branson 
was sitting at the communications 
desk of the little pilot boat, listening 
to the noises coming over the speak- 
er. There was almost a dead silence 
now; Darren was lying in wait for 
something. He’d found an animal 
path, and he wanted to see what sort 
of brute used it. 

Tina came in, anger blazing in her 
eyes, her mouth thin and tight with 
fury. 

"Has Rob eaten yet?” she asked. 

Branson looked down at the log. 
"Yes. Once. About two hours ago; 
Dr. Greeth was listening then.” 

"Can I talk to Rob?” 

"He’s busy now. What’s it all 
about?” 

Tina took a deep breath. "Some- 
one took the last of the frozen 
steaks. I put one of them in a sand- 
wich and put it in Rob’s pack; I was 
just wondering if he’d found it.” 

"How many steaks were there?” 
Branson asked. 

"Five, counting the one I gave 
Rob. Not big ones, just small sand- 
wich steaks. But they were the last. 
I was going to make a hash out of 
the remaining four and split them 
among the six of us. Now they’re 
gone.” 



THE QUEEN BEE 



85 



Branson clamped his lips together 
tightly, then thumbed the switch on 
the voice pickup. "Darren.” 

"Yeah?” A whisper. "What is 
it?” 

"Was there a steak sandwich in 
your lunch?” 

"Steak?” The whisper was puz- 
zled. "No. Why? What a thing to 
bother me with now ! I’ve got one of 
those big lubbers almost in my sights, 
but if he hears me, he just might de- 
cide to head for the hills.” 

"O.K. Forget it. Nail that beast.” 

"O.K., Chief.” 

Branson cut off the voice pickup 
so that Darren couldn’t hear what 
was being said. 

"Take over listening, Tina,” Bran- 
son said tiredly. "I’ll go take a look 
around.” 

Somehow, he had known he 
wouldn’t have to look far. 

Elissa was sitting at the desk in 
the cabin they shared together, sketch- 
ing fluffy, impossible dresses. She 
didn’t look up when he came in; she 
kept sketching until he spoke. 

"Elissa.” 

Her eyes looked at him and 
widened in innocence, and a soft 
smile came over her face. "Yes?” 

He kept his voice steady, his face 
free of emotion. "Do you know any- 
thing about the steaks in the food 
locker?” 

An angry frown came over her 
face. "I certainly do. I was going to 
speak to you about them. We haven’t 
had any steak for days now. That 
little snippet, Tina, has been holding 
out on us. And then, this morning, 

86 



she sneaked one out and made a 
sandwich for her husband.” 

Branson nodded slowly, trying to 
find words. Maybe she was right, in 
her own twisted way. Maybe she 
really couldn’t understand why Tina 
had been stretching out the protein. 
Maybe she couldn’t understand why 
Rob needed and deserved a little ex- 
tra something. 

"She ought to be punished for a 
trick like that,” Elissa continued hot- 
ly. "Feeding her stupid husband and 
herself the best food while we have 
to get by on pap.” 

"Do you know what happened to 
the steaks, Elissa?” Branson asked. 
"Did you hide them, or something?” 
She smiled a little. "No. I ate 
them. They were very good.” 

Branson reached out and grabbed 
her. 

Six more days passed. Darren came 
back empty-handed from his first at- 
tempt to hunt the big beasts. Some- 
thing — a blue-furred carnivore of 
some kind — had scared off the one 
he had been stalking, and he hadn’t 
been able to find another. 

Branson’s right hand was badly 
swollen for a day or two afterwards, 
but even on the sixth day, Elissa 
Krand was still being careful of how 
she sat down. 

Branson had smoothed over the 
theft of the steaks as best he could, 
and the others realized that Elissa 
had been informed of the error of 
her ways in no uncertain terms, but 
no one was really satisfied, especially 
Peter Branson. 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 



Damn it, what made the girl 
tick ? 

On the sixth day after the inci- 
dent, Folee asked him a rather per- 
sonal question. 

"How are you getting along with 
that self-centered feline, Chief?” Fo- 
lee had picked up the habit of calling 
him that from Darren. 

They were standing in the middle 
of the clearing, building a pit out of 
rocks. The power in the pilot boat 
was dwindling; eventually, they’d 
have to cook over an open wood 
fire. 

Branson heaved another rock into 
place and mopped his brow with a 
thick forearm. "She accepts me,” he 
said. 

"Is that all?” Folee looked in- 
credulous. "She seemed to like you 
well enough to pick you out. Of 
course, the way you’ve been treating 
her might — ” 

"No, no,” Branson interrupted. 
"It’s not that. She’s neither warm nor' 
cool. I’m just something that has hap- 
pened to her — like an act of God or 
something. That’s all. How are things 
with you and Della?” 

It was a full minute before Folee 
answered. At long last, the words 
came, as though a dam had broken. 
"Nothing has happened yet. Not a 
thing. I’m beginning to suffer from 
congenital frustration, if you follow 
me.” 

Branson allowed himself a look 
of surprise. "What seems to be. the 
matter?” 

"Scared.” 

Branson cursed softly; "We can’t 



have that. We can’t. The only way a 
second generation can pan out prop- 
erly is to get as many different genetic 
patterns as possible. You’ve got to do 
something.” 

Folee grinned suddenly. "Don’t 
worry. I told her I’d give her a week 
to get used to the idea. That week is 
up tonight.” 

"Oh? Think she’ll quit being 
stubborn?’’ 

"If she doesn’t,” sa-id Folee flatly, 
"I’m going to beat the daylights out 
of her.” 

Branson nodded and silently eased 
another stone into place. 

Rob Darren came back that after- 
noon from his third hunting trip. 
This time, he was carrying a Mark- 
heim over one shoulder and a haunch 
of meat over the other. He looked 
tired, but happy. 

The animal had been too heavy to 
drag all the way back to camp, so he 
had simply hacked off a rear quarter 
and suspended the rest of the carcass 
from a tree branch. If predators 
didn’t get it, it might be possible to 
go back after the remainder with the 
little hand truck and some extra 
help. 

"It looks as though I’ll have steak 
tonight, Tina,” said Dr. Greeth, smil- 
ing. "But please — make it a very 
small one, and very well done.” 

Tina Darren prodded the bloody 
haunch on her kitchen table with a 
dainty forefinger. "It looks a little 
tough. I’ll chop it fine for you.” She 
grinned at her husband. "Couldn’t 
you have shot a tender one?” 



THE QUEEN BEE 



87 



"What did you want me to do? 
Pinch it first?’’ 

"You might have tried." 

The following morning, Branson 
sensed a faint uneasiness at the break- 
fast table. They were still eating in 
the pilot boat until the fireplace out- 
side was finished. 

It didn’t take him long to spot the 
reason for the odd atmosphere. Folee 
had a placid look on his face as he 
cut into the purple melon on his plate, 
but when he caught Branson’s eye, 
he flashed a grin that was both wry 
and rather sheepish. The side of Del- 
la Thorn’s face was a trifle swollen 
and very faintly purplish, and she 
had an odd expression that Branson 
couldn’t quite translate. 

"Well,” said Dr. Greeth, patting 
his small paunch, "unless I soon feel 
much worse than I do now, I can pro-' 
nounce the swoose to be an edible 
animal.” 

, “Swoose?” asked Folee. 

"From the taste,” Greeth explain- 
ed. "Half swine, half moose.’’ 

“I didn’t know you were acquaint- 
. ed with Earth animals,” said Bran- 
son. 

“Are they Earthies?” the doctor 
risked in some surprise. “I didn’t 
know that. We have both of them on 
Viona. Imported early, I suppose. 
Viona’s an old planet.” 

Branson frowned. “I can see im- 
porting hogs, but not moose. They’re 
not a domestic animal.” 

They compared notes, and came to 
the conclusion that the swine on 
Viona were indeed imported Terres- 

88 



trial pigs, but the moose in question 
was a native animal that had been 
given the name because of a real or 
fancied resemblance to the Earth 
animal. 

The conversation was only idle 
chatter, but it had served to keep 
everyone’s mind off their more pres- 
sing problems. 

Until, that is, Elissa Krand, said: 
"Must we discuss filthy animals at the 
breakfast table?” 

No one said anything, but they all 
thought plenty. 

That evening, swoose steak was 
the entree, and Elissa Krand refused 
to touch hers. 

"I don’t think I care to watch you 
eating it,” she said with distaste as 
she rose from the table. "You can 
have mine; I’ll stick to food from the 
locker.” 

"I think she’s dangerous," said 
Branson. "What’s your opinion?” 

"My opinion?” asked Dr. Greeth. 
"I’m not sure. She's hard to figure. 
I’m not a psych man; I’m a surgeon.” 

They were sitting in the small cab- 
in that had been built for the doctor 
and his medical supplies. Branson 
was hunched up on the edge of the 
cot, while the older man was leaning 
back in one of Della Thorn’s chairs. 

"She stole some more food from 
the locker, you know,” Branson said. 
"She refused to eat swoose, so I told 
her that was too bad, that she’d get 
no more than her share from the 
emergency rations. So she stole.” 

“Did you paddle her again?” 

“No,” said Branson dully. "It 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 



doesn’t help. All she does is threaten 
me with arrest when the rescue ship 
comes. She really doesn’t believe one 
is coming, but she has to threaten. I 
wish I knew more about her back- 
ground.” 

"I know a little,” the doctor ad- 
mitted. ''Her father had money- 
plenty of it. Too much of it, maybe. 
He was a pretty big man on Ta- 
weetha, from what I hear. Elissa in- 
herited it all when he died some 
years ago. 

"The local government on Ta- 
weetha isn’t too strong, and it isn't 
above corruption. With her money, 
Elissa could get away with almost 
anything.’’ 

"Spoiled brat?” Branson asked. 
"You’d think what she’s been through 
here would have taken that out of 
her.” 

Dr. Greeth shook his head. "Not 
likely. She needs psych treatment, I 
should think.” 

"Just because she thinks she’s 
Queen of the Universe?” 

"Partly,” agreed the doctor, "but 
that’s not the whole picture. She 
wants to be admired and kowtowed 
to, and she wants to have her own 
way, but lots of little girls have 
thought that way during their adoles- 
cense. Most of them leam better.” 

"What about Elissa, then?” 

"Well — ” The old man smoothed 
a palm over the top of his thinning 
white hair. "Put it this way; you’ve 
punished her, haven’t you? And so' 
have the rest of us, in one way or 
another, eh?” 

Branson nodded. 



"Has she changed her attitude one 
whit?” the doctor asked. "Does she 
still give you back-chat, and still steal 
food, and heaven knows what else?” 

Again Branson nodded. "There are 
times when I feel like popping her 
with a closed fist.” 

"So do we all,” said Greeth. "But 
it won’t do any good. Look at Della 
Thorn.” 

Branson looked surprised, and Dr. 
Greeth patted the air with a lean 
hand. "No, I’m not changing the 
subject; I’m trying to give you data 
to work with.” 

"All right; what about Della?” 

"Della can learn. Folee clouted her 
a while back, and forced her to learn 
something she was psychologically in- 
capable of learning by herself.” 

"You’ve talked with Folee?” Bran- 
son asked. 

"I have. Della had to learn her 
lesson in the worst way possible— by 
force. Folee didn’t cure her of her 
fear; don’t ever think that. But he did 
help her to learn to live with it by 
giving her something to fear even 
more. She learned. 

"But Elissa Krand won’t — can’t — 
learn. She accepted that blow from 
you as something that just happened. 
You are an outside force over which 
she has no control, therefore, it’s not 
her fault if you hit her. Nothing is 
ever' her fault. She can’t do anything 
wrong, and if you think she did, it’s 
because you are mistaken. Naturally, 
she’s not responsible for your mis- 
takes.” 

"How in the devil did she ever get 
along on civilized planets?” Branson 



THE QUEEN BEE 



89 



asked in amazement. "She couldn’t 
have acted like she was here.” 

"Her behavior differs only in in- 
tensity, not m kind, said Dr. Greeth. 
"She didn’t steal because she didn’t 
have to. On Taweetha, she could get 
almost anything she wanted ivhhout 
stealing. She was continually sur- 
rounded by a buffer system of pro- 
tectors and sycophants who made sure 
that nothing harsh ever came her 
way. Now all that’s gone, but she 
can’t even learn that it has gone; she 
expects us to toady now.” 

"But what are we going to do with 
her?” Branson asked. "We don’t 
know what she’s going to pull next. 
I wish I could keep her locked up.” 

"Well,” said Greeth with an imp- 
ish smile, "you could begin by taking 
her shoes away from her.” 

The group had been on the planet 
for three months when Folee came 
with the news. 

Branson was in the midst of a 
violent quarrel with Elissa when the 
knock came at the door. They both 
became silent, and for a moment all 
they could hear was the heavy patter 
of the rain on the roof. Then: "It’s 
me! Folee!” 

"Come ahead,” Branson said. 

Folee, dripping wet, pushed open 
the door. There was a wide grin on 
his craggy face. "Got news,” he said. 

Elissa gasped. "Rescue? Has a ship 
come?” 

The grin on Folee’s face faded a 
little. Oh, no. We can give up on 
that, you know. No, this is even bet- 
ter news. Della’s pregnant.” 

90 



It was an event that called for a 
celebration. In spite of the rain, 
everybody trooped over to Folee’s 
house as soon as the word was passed 
around. Dr. Greeth, having verified 
the diagnosis to the best of his ability, 
tapped the keg of medical alcohol 
and made a punch from the juice of 
a little green berry that grew pro- 
lifically in the nearby forest. 

Della Thorn looked both pleased 
and proud. She was the first. Folee 
looked even prouder. 

Dr. Greeth passed around the 
green-tinged punch and everyone 
toasted Della and her baby. Then 
she proposed a toast to Folee. Then 
everybody began proposing toasts to 
everything and everybody else. 

Della was having the time of her 
life. In the limelight, she seemed to 
glow, which made her even more 
beautiful than she had been. She was 
at the peak of her life, the pinnacle 
of her existence. For that one night, 
she was ecstatically happy. 

Two days later, she was dead. 

There was never any question of 
who had committed the slaughter. 
Tina Darren was found at the edge 
of the forest, a knife wound in her 
back. Della Thorn was slumped over 
her bed in Folee’s house; she’d been 
stabbed from the front, once in the 
abdomen, and once in the heart. 

Elissa Krand had locked herself 
in the pilot boat with a Markheim 
rifle while four men stood outside, 
impotent with deadly fury, and mur- 
der in their eyes. 

"I’ll kill her,” Folee kept saying 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 



over and over again. "I’ll kill her. 
I’ll kill her.’’ 

Darren, too, was repeating him- 
self. "Why Tina? Why did she kill 
Tina?” 

"How did it happen?” Dr. Greeth 
asked Branson. 

"I was in my shack,”. Branson said 
dully. "Folee and Darren were out 
picking melons. You were in the clin- 
ic cabin. Elissa must have lured Tina 
into the forest somehow, then gone 
after Della. 

"Folee found Della first, then we 
all started looking for Tina and Elis- 
sa. We found them.” His voice 
seemed to be drained of all emotion. 

"There’s no question of punish- 
ment, of course,” Dr. Greeth said. 
"We’ll have to tell her that she has 
nothing to fear from us.” 

Folee heard him and turned sav- 
agely. ^ "Oh, no? I’ll personally 
strangle the monster with my bare 
hands.” 

"Not,” said Darren calmly, "if I . 
get at her first.” 

Dr. Greeth shook his head slowly. 
"No. You can’t do that. She’s the only 
woman we have left.” After a mo- 
ment he added: "And she damn well 
knows it.” 

Elissa didn’t come out of the pilot 
boat for twenty-four hours. There was 
no way of talking to her, not in the 
soundproof shell of what had once 
been a spaceship. For a full day, the 
four men fought it out among them. 
They buried Tina and Della and then 
argued some more. 

"Brytell’s Law!” Folee snarled 
jeeringly. "Who gives a damn about 




THE QUEEN BEE 



91 



that? You don’t think I’d touch that 
inhuman killer do you ? Or Darren ? 
I say kill her. Kill her and let some- 
one else populate the planet.” 

"Kill her and you’ll kill your- 
selves,” Branson said flatly. "Do you 
know what would happen ? Four men 
— alone on a planet for the rest of 
their lives. How would we end up? 
What purpose would there be to our 
lives?” 

"Sure,” snapped Darren. "That’s 
your idea. Because she’s your wom- 
an.” 

Dr. Greeth said: "Let’s go over to 
Branson’s house and sit down and 
talk like sane men. We can leave the 
door open so we can see the pilot 
boat. I don’t think she’ll try to get 
away, but we can see her if she 
does.” 

All that night they argued. Only 
slowly did the immediate emotion 
fade from Folee’s and Darren’s 
minds, to be replaced with thoughts 
of the future. It wasn’t a pretty pic- 
ture, whether Elissa Krand lived or 
died, but it was obvious that she 
must live. 

The next morning, she appeared 
at the air-lock door of the. pilot boat, 
carrying a Markheim in her arms. 

The men came slowly out of Bran- 
son s house, not taking their eyes 
from her for an instant. 

Well, she called, "have you made 
up your minds?” There was a haughty 
insolence in her voice. 

Folee stopped walking. 

Careful, Folee,” whispered Dr. 
Greeth. "Watch yourself.” 

You don t dare kill me, you 



know,” she called in her cool voice. 

"We know,” Branson said. "Don’t 
worry. You’re safe.” 

"What are you going to do?” 

Surprisingly, it was Darren who 
answered. "Nothing,” he said in a 
dead voice. "There’s nothing we can 
do. Nothing.” 

She smiled softly. "There’s been 
no loss, really. I can have children — 
I know; I’ve had two already. If 
Branson isn’t man enough to be a 
father, at least we know that Folee 

is. ” 

None of the men said anything. 

"But I want to warn you,” she 
went on, "I don’t intend to be treated 
the way I have been. I won’t be lock- 
ed up or pushed around. You’ll treat 
me as I want to be treated. You’ll 
have to.” 

"We know,” said Folee. "We 
know.” 

"I know you do,” she said. "I’m 
going to stay in here for a while. You 
can bring me food. I’ll let you know 
when I want one of you.” She smiled 
again. "And you can all behave your- 
selves.” Then she went back in and 
closed the door. 

She had them. They couldn’t do a 
thing. They couldn’t force themselves 
on her, and they couldn’t do without 
her. If she mistreated them, they had 
to take it; if they mistreated her, she 
could easily abort any pregnancies — 
and she was perfectly capable of 

it. 

A month later, Branson came back 
from the forest with a haunch of 
swoose over his shoulder and a bloody 



92 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 



pelt from one of the blue-furred pred- 
ators that prowled the region. 

Folee was hammering crosspieces 
into the stockade. He had started to 
strengthen it when one of the animals 
had begun sniffing around the doors 
at night. 

"I think I got our pet,” Branson 
said, holding up the blue pelt. "I 
baited a trap with part of a swoose 
and then waited. He walked right 
into it.” 

"Good,” said Folee. "I wish we 
could ged rid of all man-eaters that 
way.” 

"How’s the Queen Bee?” Branson 
asked. 

Folee spread his hands in a gesture 
of futility. "Same as ever. She said 
she misses you. You’ve been gone for 
three days.” 

Branson spat. "Is she pregnant 
yet?” 

"No. Not yet.” 

"If she doesn’t pan out as a pro- 
spective mother,” Branson said slow- 
ly, “we may kill her yet.” 

"No,” Folee said tiredly. "No we 
won’t. We’ll keep hoping. Besides — 
I don’t think I want to kill her any- 
more. But I can’t take much more of 
this.” 

"None of us can,” said Branson. 

Dr. Greeth, who up to now had 
said nothing, suddenly sucked in his 
breath sharply, and stood rigid. Folee 
and Branson reacted automatically, in- 
stantly sweeping the direction Greeth 
was facing with alerted weapons. 

"What is it, Doc?” 

Dr. Greeth relaxed and shook his 
head, and smiled slightly. "No! — No 



attacker. Just an idea. The Queen Bee. 
I think ... I know exactly how to 
give our Queen Bee precisely what 
she has been demanding, and has ful- 
ly earned. She shall fulfill the role 
she selected — completely.” 

"She wouldn’t fulfill anything; you 
know it, and you know we can’t make 
her,” Branson said harshly. 

"This can’t go on, you know. It 
just can’t work out, no matter what 
Elissa may think.” 

"I know,” Folee said, "and that’s 
one thing that worries me. One of us 
is going to take a real poke at her 
one of these days.” 

"Worse than that,’’ said Greeth 
tightly. "If she ever has any children* 
how are we going to protect them 
from her? She’s killed twice, she can 
kill again.” 

"I know that,” Branson agreed. 
"So . . . what can we do?” 

Dr. Greeth told them. 

The trial of Elissa Krand was held 
the following day. Folee and Darren 
had been sent to get her after they’d 
heard what Dr. Greeth had to say. 
She didn’t bother to struggle; she 
just laughed at first, and then told 
them that they’d better be good little 
boys — or else. 

Darren floored her with a fist, and 
Folee had to hold him back to keep 
him from hitting her again. 

Branson acted as presiding judge. 
It wasn’t a trial in any sense of prov- 
ing guilt, but it was -necessary. 

"This is ridiculous,” Elissa said. 
"You’re acting like a bunch of chil- 
dren. A trial! What a farce! You’re 



THE QUEEN BEE 



93 



play-acting.” But there was a touch 
of fear in her words. 

Branson, sitting behind his desk, 
said: “Sit down, Miss Krand.” He 
kept his voice even. “Sit over there. 
The sergeants-at-arms will watch 
you. And keep quiet.” 

"Sergeants-at-arms!” She laughed. 
“So you’re taking titles already. I 
suppose I ought to address you as 
'Your Honor’ ?” 

"That’s right,” snapped Folee. 
"And His Honor said for you to 
keep quiet.” 

"The purpose of this trial,” said 
Branson in a dry voice, “is to deter- 
mine the guilt and, if any, the punish- 
ment of the defendant, Elissa Krand, 
who is accused of the double murder 
of Miss Della Thorn and Mrs. Tina 
Darren on the morning of the eighth 
day of Thirdmonth, Year 980, Galac- 
tic. 

“The entire procedure is being re- 
corded so that our descendants, if 
any, will know exactly what happen- 
ed and how we handled it. It will be 
up to them to decide whether or not 
we have acted properly.” 

At the mention of the word "de- 
scendants” Elissa Krand relaxed a lit- 
tle. They weren’t going to kill 
her. 

Branson picked up • the diary he 
had been keeping and opened it to 
the first page. Then he began read- 
ing from it in a careful monotone, 
keeping any emotion out of the 
words. The entire history of the 
colony, up to the day of the murders 
was read into the record. Then Bran- 
son stopped and looked at Folee. 

94 



"Mr. Darren, will you act as 
prosecutor?” 

"I will,” Darren said firmly. 

“I realize that having an interested 
party act as prosecutor is not proper,” 
Branson said for the record, "but we 
have no choice. Dr. Greeth will act 
as defense, because he has the only 
defense possible. And certainly 
neither Folee nor Darren could prop- 
erly judge this. case. Actually, none 
of us can. It will, as I said, be up to 
our descendants to judge, not only 
Elissa Krand, but this court and its 
proceedings.” 

He looked at Elissa. “How does 
the defendant plead?” 

Elissa laughed again. "Don’t be 
silly. If you’re going to keep up this 
farce, go ahead, but — ” 

"How do you plead?” Branson 
repeated. 

Another laugh. "Guilty. You 
know I’m guilty.” 

"Do you wish to make a confes- 
sion to the court?” 

The girl smiled insolently. "If you 
wish.” 

She gave it to them. The whole 
story. How she had walked into 
Folee’s house and stabbed Della 
twice with a kitchen knife, how she 
had asked Tina to help her pick ber- 
ries and had knifed her as soon as 
her back was turned. All of it. 

And she enj oyed it. She was laugh- 
ing at them. She glanced occasionally 
at Folee and then at Darren to see 
how they were taking it, but she got 
no satisfaction there; both men were 
calm and controlled now. 

When she had finished, there was 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 



a dead silence for a space of a full 
second. Then Dr. Greeth spoke. 

"If the court please, 'I move that 
the defendant’s plea be changed from 
'guilty’ to 'not guilty by reason of 
insanity.’’ 

"Insanity!” Elissa sounded shock- 
ed. "If anyone’s insane around here, 
it’s the four of you — not me.’’ 

"The defendant does not wish to 
so plead,” said Branson, "but the 
court will take your request into ac- 
count. Mr. Prosecutor, an unsub- 
stantiated confession will not, in it- 
self, suffice to convict the defendant. 
Have you any further evidence?” 

"I call Mr. Cray Folee,” said Dar- 
ren. He was quite cool now. 

Folee gave his evidence. He told 
how he had found Della, how he had 
called the others, how they had found 
Tina, how Elissa had acted and what 
she had said the next morning. 

Then, in turn, Dr. Greeth, Darren 
himself, and finally Branson, gave 
their versions of the story. It wasn’t 
proper court procedure, but they had 
no other way. 

Through it all, Elissa sat calmly, a 
don’t-give-a-damn smile on her 
face. 

"It is agreed by all of us, including 
the defendant,” Branson intoned, 
"that Elissa Krand actually commit- 
ted the murders. There is no question 
of that. The only question before the 
court is one of punishment.” 

"If it please the court,” said Dr. 
Greeth, "the defense would like to 
state its case.” 

"Proceed,” said Branson. 



" 'Proceed’,” mimicked Elissa. 
"My! How stuffy can we get?” 

“Shut up,” said Folee. 

Dr. Greeth ignored her and began 
speaking. 

"I would like to point out that it 
must be obvious to every man here 
that the defendant, Elissa Krand, is 
not emotionally sound. Her motiva- 
tion alone shows that. Her confessed 
reason for this double murder . . 

"Triple,” Folee breathed softly. 

". . . Is not that of a normal, sane 
person. Surely, then, we can not ask 
the death penalty.” It was a purely 
formal statement, intended to lead 
into what Branson was going to say. 

"On the civilized planets of this 
galaxy,” Branson said, "the death 
penalty is never used. Psyching is pre- 
scribed, no matter what the motiva- 
tion. Unfortunately, this is not yet 
a civilized planet. We have no psych 
men. We are only five people, alone 
on an uncharted planet. 

“Normally, in that case, the judg- 
ment of this court would still have to 
be- — death. We have no place here 
for the proper treatment of insanity. 

"But this is not a normal case. For 
simple biological reasons, we can not 
— and we will not — mete out to this 
woman the normal punishment for 
her crime. 

"However, there is another way. 
Dr. Greeth, would you explain?” 

Dr. Greeth cleared his throat. 
"Let’s just take a look at the basic 
tenets of this colony and of this par- 
ticular case. 

"Why can’t we kill Elissa Krand? 



THE QUEEN BEE 



95 



Very simply, because we need her. 
We do not need her — or want her— 
as a person; the entity of Elissa 
Krand, warped and vicious as it is, 
is of no use to us. Indeed, it is a det- 
riment to the group as a whole. 

"But we do need her physically — 
as a biological engine. As a repro- 
ducing machine.” 

The recording machine hummed as 
it’s electronic memory caught and 
held every word, saving it for gen- 
erations yet unborn. 

“Therefore,” Greeth continued, 
"our object should be to find a meth- 
od whereby we can destroy — kill — 
the entity known as Elissa Krand 
without destroying her body as our 
only instrument for reproducing the 
human race here on Generatrix.” 

Elissa quivered. All the color had 
drained from her face. The man was 
serious! "It’s not possible,” she said 
hoarsely. 

"There is such a method,” said Dr. 
Greeth, ignoring her. "It hasn’t been 
used for centuries, except on certain 
animals, and even there the effect is 
different. It is outlawed in every 
civilized planet of the galaxy. But, as 
the court has pointed out, we can 
hardly call ourselves a civilization. 

"Even the most inhumane methods 
can have their uses when all else is 
impossible.” 

"What is it?" Elissa screamed 
suddenly. "You’re crazy! You can’t 
do any such thing! What is it? How 
can you kill me without killing my 
body? How — ” 



Folee clapped a hand over her 
mouth. "Shut up and listen!” he 
snapped. 

"The process,” said Dr. Greeth, 
"is an operation called a transorbital 
leucotomy. A small, thin blade — 
called a leucotome — is inserted into 
the prefrontal lobes of the brain by 
passing it behind the eyeballs of the 
patient and through the nerve and 
blood channels — into the brain tissue 
itself. By careful cutting, the nervous 
connections of the prefrontal lobes 
are destroyed in such a manner that 
the actual thinking part of the brain 
no longer functions. 

"What remains is, to all intents 
and purposes, a robot. It can feed it- 
self — clothe itself — perform small 
small tasks that require no thought. 
But it can not think. The ego, to use 
an ancient term, is destroyed. Or, if 
not destroyed, at least isolated so that 
it no longer has any control over the 
body. 

"Of course, the operation has no 
effect whatever on the genetic charac- 
teristics of any offspring of the 
patient. 

"Such an operation, gentlemen, 
exactly fits the needs of this case.” 

Branson didn’t pause. He slapped 
the palm of his hand on the table. 
"This court so orders. Elissa Krand, 
you have heard the judgment of this 
court. Have you anything to say?” 

Elissa Krand screamed. 

One year later, the first child born 
on the planet Generatrix was a lovely 
baby girl, named Tina. 



THE END 



96 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 




SELLER’S MARKET 

BY CHRISTOPHER ANVIL 



It’s wonderful , what one could do with 
just the power to be absolutely convincing 
. . . convincing, that is, to other minds. The 
Universe is somewhat harder to convince . . . 



Illustrated by Martinez 



SELLER’S MARKET 



97 



APTAIN Nathaniel Cor- 
der, of Cryos Expedi- 
tion, lay in the deep 
cold snow under the 
tracksled. He shone his 
light on the rapidly spinning drive- 
shaft, then shone the light carefully 
back along the shaft to the universal 
joint. He saw that it was spinning, 
too. 

From the darkness beside the sled, 
Corder heard the Sergeant’s low 
voice. “Sir, I found some heavy 
wire. If the universal’s broken, maybe 
we can fix it.’’ 

Corder blew out a cloud of frozen 
breath. “It’s not the universal. It’s 
another broken axle.” 

There was a moment of silence, 
then Corder said, "Divide the men 
up, and put them in the other 
sled.” 

"Sir, the tracksleds are overloaded 
already.” 

"That may be, but we can’t leave 
anyone here.” 

There was the sound of a tailgate 
dropping, and Corder heard a muf- 
fled order. From the bed of the track- 
sled over Corder’s head came a slow 
dragging scuffle of feet. Corder be- 
gan to worm his way out from under 
the sled. 

Now that the problem of the track- 
sled was no longer on his mind, Cor- 
der became conscious of his own 
sensations. His hands and feet were 
numb. His face felt deadened and 
chilled. The bridge of his nose ached 
with the cold, and he had a dull 
pain over the eyes. His heavy over- 
coat bound him without giving a 



feeling of warmth. When he wanted 
to move, he found that it took a con- 
centrated effort to make his body 
perform. 

Corder rolled carefully free of the 
sled, and got to his feet. All around 
him was darkness, with here and 
there the dim glow of a moving 
flashlight. The only sounds around 
him were the low mutter, of tracksled 
engines, and the rustle of steadily 
falling snow. 

One of the flashlights wavered 
toward him, and the Sergeant’s voice 
said, "I got them all in, sir. But I 
hope we don’t hit any more of those 
burrows.” 

"How badly are the men 
crowded?” 

"Three deep.” 

Corder and the Sergeant waded 
through the snow in silence. Corder 
was trying to think what to do if yet 
another tracksled broke an axle. 

The Sergeant caught his arm. 
"Watch it, sir. There’s a burrow 
about here.” 

Corder waded cautiously forward. 
His boot hit a hard slippery surface 
and slid ahead. Corder took an awk- 
ward hasty step to recover his balance. 
The Sergeant stumbled and lunged 
forward. Corder caught him. They 
stepped around the dark hood of a 
tracksled, and Corder shone his flash- 
light on the door. The Sergeant pull- 
ed it open, set one foot carefully on 
the step, reached up, grabbed the 
doorframe with both hands, and 
clumsily heaved himself in. Corder 
wondered if the Sergeant's feet were 
as cold as his own, which felt like 




98 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 



loosely hinged blocks of wood. He 
reached up, hauled himself in, and 
shut the door. 

The Sergeant leaned forward over 
a faintly-humming box mounted be- 
tween himself and the driver. A blu- 
ish glow from the box lit his face 
like a mask. ".Swing a little north,” 
he growled. 

"O.K,” said the driver. 

The engine speeded up, there was 
a smell like hot rubber and the track- 
sled began to creep forward. Corder 
pushed back the sleeve of his coat 
to glance at his watch. The glowing 
dial told him that it was already 0550. 
The attack was to start at 0630, and 
the tracksleds were proving so de- 
fective that Corder wondered if 
they’d make it. 

The Sergeant cupped his hands to 
blow on them. Corder worked off 
his mittens, undid a coat button with 
numb fingers, and slid his hands 
inside his coat under his arms. The 
tracksled crept through the darkness, 
and the snow pattered as it blew 
against the windshield. Corder’s mind 
drifted back to the first day of the 
expedition', when he’d listened as the 
Colonel described the situation on 
Cryos. 

The officers were gathered in the 
ship’s maproom, and the Colonel, 
straight and spare, was standing be- 
fore them. 

“The background of the situation,” 
said the Colonel, "is that we have 
our fleets spread thin all. over the 
universe. We’re strong nowhere, so 
the Outs can hit us anywhere. In their 



last fanatical attack, they stabbed 
through the region we’re now ap- 
proaching. During the advance, they 
dropped a small landing-party on 
Cryos, an unimportant planet of an- 
out-of-the-way sun. A scout ship of 
ours was caught in the path of this 
Out penetration and saw the land- 
ing. 

"The Outs could easily have de- 
stroyed this scout ship, but they let 
it get away. Since then, they have 
made three showy attempts to supply 
this little force on Cryos, and all 
three have been turned back without 
a genuine struggle.” 

The Colonel frowned. "Cryos, to 
the best of our knowledge, has no 
value either to the Outs or to us. Its 
ore deposits aren’t exceptional, and 
it is located away from any sizable 
communications route. The axis of 
Cryos is sharply tilted, and its cli- 
mate runs to violent extremes. The 
highest known form of life on the 
planet is a hardy burrowing omni- 
vore. This creature looks like a huge 
bristly caterpillar, has an oversize 
appetite, and kept our first explor- 
atory team in a constant state of 
emergency by burrowing into the 
stocks of supplies. Gravity and at- 
mosphere on Cryos are bearable, but 
these are the only known points in 
the planet’s favor. 

"So,” said the Colonel, "the Outs 
dropped a landing party on this 
place, and, ever since, they’ve been 
advertising it to us.” The Colonel 
glanced narrow-eyed at a Manila 
folder lying on a table nearby. He 
took hold of the folder, and held it 



SELLER’S MARKET 



99 



up. It was stamped in big block let- 
ters, "Top Secret.’’ 

"This," said the Colonel, "is the 
General Staff's answer to the prob- 
lem. As you may have noticed, gentle- 
men, in the past three years there 
have been some peculiar changes in 
the manner of thinking of the Gen- 
eral Staff. To begin with, they dis- 
persed our strength on the frontiers. 
The Outs have punched through 
twice, and show every sign that they 
are getting ready for a new and big- 
ger attack. When we try to warn of 
this, we find that we might as well 
try to talk through a dogged-down 
spacedoor. We aren’t heard. The 
worst part of it is, if we send some- 
one back to hammer things out with 
them, he vanishes into the Capitol, 
and comes out after a few days con- 
vinced everything is fine. I came back 
myself about fifteen months ago and 
tried to sell some kind of gibberish 
called 'elastic counterdefensive.’ 
Whoever goes back to the Capitol 
comes out with the idea. After a few 
days, the sense of certainty evaporates, 
and it’s possible to see that it’s all 
doubletalk. It won’t work. But the 
General Staff keeps handing down 
stuff on the same level, and now we 
come to the plan for Cryos. 

"Anyone,” said the Colonel, 
ought to be able to see the possibility 
that the Outs are laying a trap. But 
the plan specifically prepared by the 
General Staff makes no mention of 
the possibility of a trap. It says in- 
stead, that we have taken no prison- 
ers, and therefore this collection of 
Outs offers a splendid opportunity 
100 



for study. We are supposed to go 
down and capture this Out expedi- 
tion. We’re supposed to bring them 
back alive and in good shape. Let me 
read just one paragraph: 

" 'The objective of Operation 
Coldfeet is the capture, alive and 
well, of all enemy troops on the 
planet Cryos. To this end, the initial 
landing will be made at Point Q, 
precisely forty miles southwest of the 
enemy base on Able Hill. The ex- 
peditionary force will form three 
separate columns of .attack, advance 
under cover of darkness and total 
silence along diverging routes of 
march, turn at predesignated points 
and converge upon Able Hill in a 
three-pronged pincer movement. This 
advance will be so timed that the 
three columns strike the hill simul- 
taneously from the south, west, and 
east. The troops-will immediately de- 
ploy, and halt ready to advance up 
the hill. The Expedition Commander 
■will then contact the enemy and de- 
mand his immediate surrender.’ ’’ 
The Colonel put the manila folder 
on the table nearby and pushed it 
away. The room was dead quiet. The 
Colonel said, "Anyone who can land 
a ship precisely forty miles southwest 
of a given point on the winter hemis- 
phere of a strange planet, and throw 
troops out into the night in three 
different directions at three different 
rates of march through deep snow, 
assemble them again simultaneously 
at a place forty miles away, where 
they have never been before, and do 
it without benefit of any signal the 
enemy might pick up — anyone who 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 



can do this has earned the right to 
go out and try to make his enemies 
give up without firing a shot. "But,” 
said the Colonel, "with all due re- 
spect to the people who framed this 
order, I think we had better go at it 
a little differently.” 

Corder felt a heavy jounce and a 
crash. He was sitting in the tracksled. 
The tracksled hesitated a moment, 
then crept forward. 

"Amen,” said the Sergeant. 

"Keep praying,” said the driver. 
"There’s generally a bunch of bur- 
rows together.” 

The tracksled tilted again, climbed, 
and came down with a smash. There 
was a moment’s pause, then the sled 
crawled sluggishly ahead. 

Corder leaned forward and scraped 
a layer of frost from the windshield. 
Outside the night was fading to a 
dark gray, and Corder seemed to see 
a darker bulk far ahead and slightly 
to his left. He visualized the map the 
Colonel had shown them, with its 
long narrow hill in the center. The 
Outs had been sighted on the hill, 
and the Colonel had decided to land 
to the east, then advance toward the 
long east face of the hill in parallel 
columns of tracksleds. Each column 
of sleds would help the other if 
they were attacked en route. If not, 
the plan was to hit the hill to the 
north of its center, split the Outs into 
two parts, and crush each in turn. 

Only, Corder thought, if that dark 
bulk to the left was the hill, he was 
too far to the north. . 

"Sergeant,” he said. 



"Sir?” 

"Take a look out there.” 

The Sergeant leaned forward. The 
tracksled crawled up and smashed 
down. The Sergeant steadied himself, 
turned his head away, then looked 
back. "Sir,” he said, "it looks like 
the hill to the southwest there. But 
it’s too dark to be sure.” He looked 
ahead, then squinted off toward the 
north. Then he turned and looked 
back to the southwest. "I don’t know. 
It could just be heavy clouds in that 
direction.” 

Corder leaned forward and peered 
into the gloom. If he looked straight 
ahead, it seemed noticeably darker to 
the left. If he looked to the left, he 
could see nothing there at all. 

Now, Corder thought, if that is 
the hill, I am off the course and will 
get carried right straight out of the 
battle entirely; and then only part of 
our force will hit the Outs, and we 
will lose. Or, on the other hand, if 
that isn’t the hill, and I do swing 
southwest, we will probably hit the 
center column going west, and cause 
such a mess — including the possibil- 
ity that they will mistake us for Outs 
and open fire — that again we will 
lose the battle. 

The Sergeant leaned forward 
tensely and wiped off the windshield. 

"Damned if I can tell,” he said. 

To Corder, the dark, blot seemed 
to be gradually falling to the side as 
they moved ahead. 

"Swing southwest,” said Corder. 
"And if you see anything that looks 
like a tracksled swing west again.” 

"Yes, sir.” 



SELLER’S MARKET 



101 



They peered ahead into the gray- 
ness and the tracksled now began a 
rolling motion, rising up at the right 
in front, then pitching forward so 
the left rear was up. Corder glanced 
at his watch. He had less than twenty 
minutes to get into position. 

They rode for a while in silence, 
trying to see ahead. The sky was 
growing lighter, but they still couldn’t 
be sure. 

To the south, a bright white glare 
lit the sky. A series of orange flashes 
puffed out like long fingers and faded 
away. Then they could see the hill, 
tall and white, and much closer than 
it had seemed. 

Corder felt his muscles tense. For 
a moment, he didn’t breath. 

Then the hill was swinging close, 
looming high above them. 

In the gray light of dawn, Corder 
could see nothing on the hill save a 
smooth slope of snow. 

The tracksled -tilted as it began to 
crawl up the first slope of the hill. 

"Sir,” said the driver, "do you 
want to go up here, or farther south?” 

Corder was thinking that if they 
went up the hill here, they would be 
north of the place where they should 
have been, but if they went south, 
the whole column would trail along 
the base of the hill, offering an ex- 
cellent target, and they might still be 
out of action when they were needed 
most, But, if they could get up the 
hill here, while the Outs’ attention 
was distracted by the attack to the 
south — 

"Go up here,’’ said Corder. 

102 



The tracksled tilted more steeply, 
and churned its way soggily up the 
slope. As the sled climbed, the slope 
steepened and the engine labored. 

Something ticked lightly on the 
roof of the cab. 

The engine was racing, and the 
tracksled was moving more and more 
slowly. There was a stench of burning 
rubber. 

"Sir," said the driver, "I think this 
is about as far as we’re going to go.” 

Outside, it was growing steadily 
lighter, and had stopped snowing. 

The windshield in front of the 
driver starred but didn’t break. 

Corder reached down to a shelf 
under the dash, and took out a small 
hand comset. Then he studied the 
hillside. In the growing light he could 
see nothing but a rising sweep of 
smooth snow. There were no irreg- 
ularities save an occasional ripple in 
the snow, running straight up the 
side of the hill and fading out of 
sight. 

Something bounced off the hood 
and starred the upper edge of the 
windshield directly in front of Cor- 
der. The tracksled crept to a dead 
stop. 

Corder opened the door and jump- 
ed out. His feet landed' on crusted 
snow that broke with a crunch. He 
took a step, and the crusted snow at 
first supported his weight, then gave 
way, so that his foot came down with 
a jolt, hit another layer of crust about 
eight inches lower, broke through 
that, and jammed into a third layer 
that caught his heel. The crust was 
hard, so that when he came to take 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 



another step he had to pull his foot 
' straight up to get it free. Corder 
walked in this spine-and-joint-jarring 
way about half the distance from the 
cab door to the rear of the tracksled. 
Then he stopped, the comset raised 
to his mouth to give the order, and 
saw in his mind just what would 
happen if his men started up the hill 
through this stuff. 

The air overhead and to one side 
was now growing thick with things 
that went Whick! Whick! Whick! 
as they passed. Corder looked around 
for some kind of cover, and saw, 
thrust up here and there through the 
crust, what looked like the naked top 
branch of a tree. The stems thrust 
up a yard or two at an angle, and 
were too thin to hide a cat. 

It was very plain to Corder that if 
he gave the order he was supposed 
to at this point, his men would be 
shot to pieces or pinned down in 
isolated snowholes in no time at all. 
The Outs would have a little brisk 
early-morning target practice, and 
that would be the end of it. 

Something whacked the front of 
the tracksled beside him, thumped on 
the roof at the rear, and fell in the 
snow at his feet. Corder picked up a 
little metal cylinder with small fins 
set on it at an angle. The point of 
. the dart looked like the bent end of 
a pin, and was covered by a thick 
coating that had partly cracked off. 

Corder glanced at the fabric cover- 
ing over the rear of the tracksleds, 
and knew his men couldn’t stay 
there, either. He brought the comset 
close to his mouth, studied for an 



instant the sled's ground clearance, 
then said slowly and clearly. "Get 
your men out and under the track- 
sleds. Let the first few men open fire 
from behind the tracks. Have the rest 
dig out under the sleds. As soon as 
you can, dig connecting trenches be- 
tween the tracksleds.” 

Corder repeated his orders careful- 
ly, heard tailgates dropping along the 
line of tracksleds, and made his way 
bone-jarringly to the rear of his own 
tracksled, where the first men to hit 
the crust filled the air with outraged 
disbelief, then dove under the sled. 

The air was now filled with whiz- 
zing parts, and an occasional some- 
thing that made a droning buz A 
From under the sleds came the first 
sharp reports as Corder’s men began 
to return the fire. So far, it was pos- 
sible to stay here. But already one of 
Corder’s lieutenants had reported two 
men hit by darts and unable to move. 
Moreover the Outs could be expected 
to bring up heavier weapons as 
quickly as possible, and they might, 
Corder thought, have tunnels already 
dug for the purpose of doing it un- 
seen. Corder crawled under the track- 
sled and studied the hillside in the 
growing light. He frowned at the 
low ripples in the snow, running up 
toward the top of the hill, then 
realized that they were probably bur- 
rows under the snow. 

Corder traced the ripples up the 
hill, where they vanished completely. 
Probably, he thought, because the 
burrows ran deeper there under the 
snow. He looked down the hill, and 
saw the ripples fan out onto the snow- 



SELLER’S MARKET 



103 



field. The tracks of the sleds showed 
where they had crossed them. 

Corder traced the nearest of the 
ripples back, and saw that it passed 
under the third tracksled in the line. 

The men from Corder’s sled were 
digging steadily and silently. Corder 
glanced back at the hill and scowled 
thoughtfully at what looked like a 
vapor rising from the snow far up 
the hill. Then, when his sled was 
connected with the one behind it, he 
ducked through the slit trench, to the 
third tracksled back. The men here, 
in order to move freely beneath the 
sled, were chopping through the side 
of the burrow that ran under it. 
With the snow dug away, the bur- 
row looked like a giant pipe about 
three feet thick. 

From up the hill, a shout went up. 
Corder turned to look out through 
the sled’s tracks. A heavy gray fog 
was rolling slowly down the hillside. 
Corder turned back to the burrow 
and saw that the men had chopped 
a large hole into it. He shone his 
light inside. The burrow stretched 
off in both directions farther than 
the light would reach. The whole 
inside wall was rippled like corrugat- 
ed iron, and roughened as if it had 
been stippled by thousands of stiff 
tiny wires. 

Corder crawled in, and ordered 
his men to follow in single file. 

Corder crawled forward as rapidly 
as he could, and the men hurried 
after him. The burrow sloped more 
steeply, and the corrugations deep- 
ened. After a time the muscles of his 

104 



whole body began to ache. He was 
repeatedly thrown off balance by his 
long overcoat. He was breathing 
hard, and his lungs hurt, as much 
from the constriction of his heavy 
clothing as from the effort. On the 
other hand, he was warm, for the 
first time since he had set foot on 
the planet. He thought of the pos- 
sibility that a grinning Out was sit- 
ting at the other end of the burrow 
with a box of grenades, waiting till 
they got good and close before roll- 
ing the first one in. Corder told him- 
self that he had only had so many 
choices since he had started out, and 
he had tried to pick the best ones 
he could. 

Instead of making him feel bet- 
ter, the thought of the fewness of the 
choices made him feel frustrated and 
resentful. He yanked forward the 
heavy skirts of the overcoat and 
thrust them through the coat’s belt. 
He crawled ahead fast and steadily, 
matching his motions to the harsh 
indrawing of his breath. 

Behind him trailed the clatter, 
heavy breathing, and dogged cursing 
of his men, laden down with their 
equipment, and driven by the same 
frustration that drove him. 

It was a long way to the top. Cor- 
der had to call a halt three times, 
and each halt was accompanied by a 
bumping and a piling-up that short- 
ened tempers to the point where 
fights threatened to break out along 
the whole length of the line. At the 
third stop, Corder had to calm a sol- 
dier, somewhere in the blackness 
behind him, who had gotten banged 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 



in the face with a rifle butt twice 
and now furiously announced that 
he would kill everyone present if it 
happened again. 

Each stretch of the burrow was 
worse than the one before, as the 
slope steepened and accidents and 
bad temper piled up. By the time the 
burrow had begun to level out, a new 
source of trouble became evident. 
The burrow roof was beginning to 
get lower. Corder hit his head twice, 
and from the dull burst of cursing 
behind him, he knew he wasn’t the 
only one. The burrow tilted slightly 
downward, flattened out more and 
more, and the corrugations grew 



shallower, longer, but more sharply 
ridged, so that they bit into his knees, 
which were already sore and tender, 
while the roof forced him down so 
that he had to use his knees regard- 
less. 

Corder passed the word back to 
come ahead more slowly. Then he 
crawled forward as fast as he could 
to find out where the burrow led. 
As he crawled, the cross section of 
the tunnel progressively changed from 
a flattened circle, to an oval, to a flat- 
tened oval, to a kind of wide horizon- 
tal slit that forced him to lie perfectly 
flat and pull himself ahead by his 
fingernails. By this time, the burrow 




seller’s market 



105 



was wide enough for three men, and 
the concave corrugations in its floor 
were long and shallow, and edged 
almost like knives. The burrow slant- 
ed sharply downward, then sharply 
upward. Corder breathed a silent 
prayer, slid down, squeezed himself 
through, felt ahead, and his fingers 
closed around a lip of ice. He pulled 
himself up and came out in a dark 
place with a flat floor. 

Corder released the safety on his 
service automatic, and came cautious- 
ly to his feet. He turned on his flash- 
light. The beam lit a pile of big, odd- 
looking tins, then shone on a wall of 
grainy snow. Corder swung the beam 
around, and it lit the six walls of a 
room about fifteen feet across. He 
shone the light up. The ceiling of the 
room slanted up from each wall to 
a round hole about two feet across- 
and ten feet up from the floor. The 
hole extended up a little over a yard, 
and ended in what looked like a 
trapdoor. Hanging down the side of 
the hole, was the top end of a rope 
ladder. About two-and-a-half feet 
down from the trapdoor, the ladder 
ended, its ropes frayed as if they’d 
been cut off with a dull knife. 

Corder studied the frayed rope, 
then shone -his light on the pile of 
tins. The tins w'ere about sixteen 
inches high, flat on both ends, and 
six-sided in cross section. Each one 
Corder picked up was roughly torn 
open along an edge. 

Corder’s men were now pulling 
themselves up out of the burrow. 
Corder had them move the tins to see 
if there was any other way out of the 

106 



room. Behind the piles of empty , 
cans, the men found the entrances of 
four more burrows. Some of the bur- 
row entrances were deeply scratched, 
as if the big cans had been pulled 
down into them. 

Corder turned around to see more 
of his men climbing into the room. 
In time, there would . be about two 
hundred of them in here, jammed to- 
gether like bullets in the clip of a gun. 
Corder stared up in exasperation at 
the trapdoor. Then he stepped to the 
mouth of the burrow and said, "Just 
one more man.’’ 

He had the men form a human 
pyramid under the hole. Then he 
climbed cautiously up, steadied him- 
self with the rope ladder, and tried 
to raise the trapdoor. The trapdoor 
wouldn’t move. Corder hit the 1 edge 
sharply with a rifle butt. Then he 
raised it cautiously and looked out to 
see the backs of half-a-dozen fur- 
clad beings, each carrying a long 
slender gun. Trudging past them was 
a group of about fifty Earchmen, 
their faces blank and unseeing, their 
hands clasped above their heads. 
Corder peered cautiously around and 
in the other three directions saw only 
snow. He let the trapdoor back in 
place, bent down, and briefly explain- 
ed the situation. "Don’t move till I 
do,’’ he warned, then he inched the 
trapdoor up. 

He saw one of the Outs from the 
side, as the fur-clad figure bent to 
prod a finger into the side of a pass- 
ing Earthman. The Out’s face was 
like that of a man, but gray, and 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 



thin to the point of emaciation. His 
movements were very slow. Corder’s 
sights swung into line on his head 
and he squeezed the trigger a little 
harder. The rifle jumped and the Out 
jerked and staggered forward. 

Corder aimed deliberately at a 
second Out, and fired. The Out fell. 
For a moment, the other four stood 
frozen and still, then their long 
slender guns started to swing up 
as they turned. Corder fired delib- 
erately a third time, then he heaved 
himself up out of the hole, sprinted 
hard to his left, and dove. 

Which! A dart flew over his head. 
Which! One ticked his helmet as it 
passed. 

Corder landed awkwardly faced in 
the snow, and had no time to change 
his position. He switched hands on 
the rifle, fired it left-handed and 
missed. He corrected his aim, took 
first pressure, then he couldn’t 
move. 

A solid rank of fur-clad Outs 
watched him over leveled guns. Their 
faces were pink and glowing with 
health and well-being. Their eyes 
were large and bright, peculiarly keen 
and sharp, and Corder felt a wave of 
unfitness that he should have attacked 
these superior beings. He felt asham- 
ed to be human and eager to do 
whatever these master men might — 

Crack! 

The line of Outs was gone, and a 
thin fur-clad figure tumbled forward. 
From the corner of his eye, Corder 
could see a bulky shape heave itself 
up from the trapdoor, sprint to the 
right, and dive. 

SELLER’S MARKET 



A long slender gun spun to cover 
him. Corder took aim. 

Corder’s gun swung erratically, a 
tiredness and weakness making his 
hands too feeble to hold it, too weak 
after the long -struggle, and the in- 
sufficient food, the lack of water, and 
now he was so tired. No one could 
blame him if — 

Crack! 

One fur-clad figure was still stand- 
ing, his long slender gun aiming 
toward the trapdoor where Corder 
could see in a swift glance that a 
man looked out with his eyes focused 
on the far distance, and his face 
trancelike and blank, and Corder’s 
sights settled into line on the slender 
fur-clad figure, and as he squeezed 
the trigger his rifle bucked and his 
ears rang with the concussion. 

The fur-clad figure bent at the 
knees, tipped and fell to one hand, 
looking at Corder with his brilliant 
eyes. 

And Corder stumbled to his feet, 
half-sobbing, and ran forward to 
catch him, to give first aid, to — • 

Crack! 

The figure jerked and slammed 
down on the snow. 

Corder stood stock-still, his lungs 
sucking in breaths of the bitter-cold 
air. Fie was looking around, the 
whole scene vividly clear as he saw 
the still-trudging procession of Earth- 
men, their hands clasped over their 
heads, and the six huddled figures on 
the snow. More of his own men were 
climbing out of the trapdoor now, 
and Corder turned to tell them to 



107 



spread out and— He jerked around 
suddenly. 

Out of the corner of his eye he 
had seen the first of the Outs start 
to roll slowly over. For an instant, 
Corder seemed to see two things at 
once. The Out was slowly coming to 
a sitting position, and the Out was 
lying flat on his face. 

Fie couldn’t have sat up, Corder 
realized, so it must be a trick of the 
sun on snow, there was nothing to 
worry about, nothing at all — But — 

Corder sucked in a sharp breath, 
and jerked his rifle up. He fired and 
fired again. 

The image lying in the snow was 
gone, and Corder saw the Out half- 
way to his feet, the long slender gun 
in his hand. The Out sat down back- 
wards, and the gun flew out of his 
hand to lie on the snow. 

Crack! Crack! The men were firing ' 
again at the Outs. 

Corder strode to the Out he had 
just shot, and rolled him over on his 
face. In the back of the skull was a 
mark like a little mouth. Even as 
Corder watched this mark slowly 
smoothed out and grew fainter. Cor- 
der raised his gun and rolled the Out 
over. The clothing over the Out’s 
chest had a neat round hole in it. 
There was no blood. 

The Out’s eyes slowly opened. 
They were peculiarly bright and keen 
eyes. Corder saw the Out’s chest 
move to take in a deep breath. Cor- 
der brought the raised butt of his 
gun down hard. The bright eyes 
shut, then opened, and Corder knew 
he could never kill, never even harm, 

108 



these beings who were of a superior 
race, far wiser, far stronger — : 

The Out’s thin hand groped, and 
his eyes flickered for an instant. 
Corder brought the gun butt down 
hard, and rolled the Out over on his 
face. Corder looked up and saw a 
tense group of his men firing down 
into a patch of empty snow, while 
a spare fur-clad figure nearby slowly 
came to its knees, its brilliant eyes 
intent on the men. Corder brought 
his gun butt down again on the back 
of the head where the scar of the shot 
was almost gone. 

Then he lay down by the Out, and 
taking the Out’s gun, studied it a 
moment and rested it across the Out’s 
back as he aimed. He squeezed the 
stud. 

Whick! The gun jerked just a little 
in his hand. 

He squeezed the stud again. 

Whick! Whick! 

The other Out fell over on his 
face, and Corder fired a dart from 
the weapon into the Out near him, 
who was starting again to move. 
After that, the Out lay still. 

It took from the morning far into 
the afternoon before the Out posi- 
tion was completely under control. 
By then, Corder, the Colonel, and 
every man present in the whole ex- 
pedition knew why the Outs had put 
this base temptingly far forward in- 
side the human star system. 

Before finally leaving Cryos, the 
Out position on Able Hill was thor- 
oughly explored. There were dugouts 
in the snow that seemed tp be bar- 
racks, headquarters dugouts, and 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 



dugouts that apparently served as 
recreation rooms. There were a large 
number of supply dugouts, and all 
of these had been burrowed into on 
a grand scale. 

Corder, the Colonel, and a number 
of other officers and men, found 
themselves staring bemused at a huge 
pile of red-painted structural beams 
in the center of the Out camp. Each 
of these beams had holes about an 
inch across spaced, along it at regular 
intervals. The beams were free of 
snow; several brooms were stuck in 
the snow at each end of the pile; and 
to one side was a stack of red hex- 
agonal kegs, or drums, drifted over 
with snow. 

"Granted,” said the Colonel, "that 
they wanted to let us see plainly 
where they were, I can understand 
why they kept that pile of beams clear 
of snow. But I fail to see why they 
didn’t make something useful out 
of it.” 

"Sir,” said Corder, "we haven’t 
found many tools here that they 
could have used. There are picks, 
shovels, and so on, but nothing in 
the way of mechanical tools.” 

A Major standing nearby spoke 
up. "Thank God. If they’d gotten 
their food supply up out of reach of 
the'burrowers, we’d all be Out re- 
cruits by now.” 

The Colonel frowned at the stack 
of hexagonal kegs. "Sergeant, take a 
few men and break open one of those 
six-sided drums.” 

The Sergeant called to several 
men and waded through the snow 
toward the pile of kegs. 

SELLER’S MARKET 



Corder shifted his grip on one of 
the Outs’ long guns and looked 
around warily. 

The Colonel smiled. "Uneasy, 
Captain?” 

"Sir, I can’t get rid of the feeling 
that there might be one we haven’t 
caught.” . 

The Major laughed boomingly. 
"God forbid.” 

The Colonel said in a quiet voice, 
"There is one we haven’t caught.” 

Corder glanced sharply around. 
"Where?” 

"In the Capitol.” 

"Sir?” 

"When I was sent back to the 
Capitol,” said the Colonel, still in 
his quiet voice, "I had the same sen- 
sation I had here when the Outs took 
us over. I’d forgotten it, but the 
memory came back when it happened 
a second time. The sensation when I 
was convinced of the 'dynamic 
counterdefensive’ was exactly the 
same as the sensation here; but it was 
much stronger than what happened 
here.” 

"Good God,” burst out the Major, 
"then they’ve got a spy through to the 
top. That’s why our orders are all 
cockeyed !” 

The Colonel didn’t turn his head. 
Dryly, he said, "It seems to be a 
possibility.” 

"Then,” said the Major after a 
pause, "we’ve lost the war.” 

Corder opened his mouth angrily, 
then clamped it shut. 

The Colonel turned his head to 
look at the Major. 

"We might just as well,” the Ma- 

109 



jor was saying heatedly, "throw in 
the — ” His eyes strayed to meet the 
Colonel’s gaze. The Major's voice cut 
off, and for an instant his lips moved 
with no sound coming out. 

The Colonel, looking at the Major, 
spoke in a flat toneless voice. "You’re 
a good man in combat, but you’d 
better learn to control what thoughts 
make use of your tongue." 

"Sorry, sir.” 

. The Colonel looked away, and 
said broodingly, "Things are so con- 
nected together that it’s impossible to 
tell what leverage any single event 
will have. But if we do our best, at 
least we have nothing to reproach 
ourselves for afterward.” He turned 
to the Major, and said in a voice 
edged with anger, "Always remem- 
ber, our own wounds and troubles 
are painfully close to us. The agonies 
of the enemy are toa far away to 
appreciate. Just do your job and don’t 
complain except when it will do some 
good.” 

"No, sir,” said the Major miser- 
ably. 

The Sergeant let out a shout. Cor- 
der turned to see that the Sergeant 
was holding up in one hand a wrench, 
and in tire other a bolt with washers 
and a nut threaded on it. Corder 
squinted at the bolt and washers, 
glanced at the holes in the red beams. 

The Colonel said, "Captain, do you 
see what I seem to see? Come on.” 

They waded through the snow. 

, The men were breaking open more 
of the six-sided drums. 



"Sir,” said the Sergeant, "they all 
seem to be the same size.” 

Corder took one of the bolts, and 
passed it — washers, nut, and all — 
easily through the holes in the stacked 
beams. "Too small,” he said. "But 
how did they ever make a mistake 
like that?” 

"That wonderful convincing abili- 
ty of theirs,” said the Colonel. "If 
it’s like any other ability, they 
have it in varying degrees. 
What happens, I wonder, if a lazy, 
highly-convincing Out competes for 
a position with a conscientious, skill- 
ed, but not-so-convincing Out? And 
if there’s mismanagement, how does 
it get rooted out, when the bungler 
can convince everyone in his mind 
that he’s right?” 

They stared at the pile of beams, 

■ and the Major blurted, "Well, I’ll be 
da — ■” then cut himself off and bit 
his lip. 

The Colonel glanced at the Major 
and smiled faintly. "It would be a 
little premature to give up, wouldn't 
it?” 

"Yes, sir.” 

"Why?” 

"They have their troubles, sir.” 

The Colonel nodded, and the Ma- 
jor looked like a boy who has gotten 
off the cracking ice onto hard ground, 
and resolves to stay there. 

Corder looked at the piles of beams 
and stacks of bolts and shook his 
head. 

Late that afternoon they took their 
captive Outs and blasted off. 



THE END 



no 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 



BUILT 



A BICYCLE 
FOR BREW 

BY FOUL ANDERSON 




Illustrated by van Dongen 



Second of Two Parts. In which it is 
shown that an old Danish rocket engineer 
really has a head for beer . . . and needs a 
beer with plenty of head to make headway. 



A BICYCLE BUILT FOR BREW 



111 



Synopsis 

The development of gyrogravitics 
had not only made interplanetary 
travel comparatively cheap and easy, 
hut permitted extensive colonization. 
A generator of suitable size could 
give an artificial gravitational field, 
sharply limited in range but strong 
enough to retain an atmosphere; the 
atomic power plant furnishing the 
energy for this could also supply 
heat to compensate for the remote- 
ness of the sun arid electricity for 
everyday uses. There was a good deal 
of emigration from Earth, and small 
neiv nations sprang up throughout 
the Solar System. 

A British party under a Stuart pre- 
tender colonized the Anglian Cluster, 
a group of asteroids circling a mutual 
center of gravity, and founded their 
otvn kingdom. An Irish settlement in 
a similar cluster became the Erse Re- 
public. The two countries had little 
contact except at close approach, 
about once in forty years. During the 
previous conjunction, an asteroid 
called Laoighise by its Erse discoverer 
— who had never claimed it formally 
— and Lois by the Anglian prospec- 
tors who visited, it later, drifted be- 
tween the two nations and was found 
to possess valuable praseodymium 
beds. The Anglians promptly mount- 
ed a super-powerful ” gee gee” unit on 
it and changed its orbit to make it 
part of their own cluster. The Erse 
protested, were overruled by the 
W orld Court, and nursed their grudge 
for forty years. Nevertheless, as they 
again approached Anglia, their peace- 

112 



ful- Gaelic Socialist government plan- 
ned no action, and even the opposi- 
tion party, the Shamrock League, did 
not openly advocate risking war. 
After all, the Anglian Navy was 
mounting heavy guard on Lois -to 
forestall any attempt at seizure. 

However, an extremist politician, 
SCOURGE - OF - THE - SAS- 
SENACH O’TOOLE, organized a 
secret filibustering expedition. With 
a space freighter and a large party of 
armed men — the Shamrock League 
Irredentist Expeditionary Force — he 
entered the Anglian Cluster: landing 
not on Laoighise but on undefended 
Grendel, a bucolic resort planetoid 
ivhich offered no resistance. Seizing 
all communication equipment, the 
Erse prevented word of their arrival 
from getting out, even though the 
Anglian capital, New Winchester, 
ivas only ten thousand kilometers 
away. They set to work installing a 
neiv geegee,. powerful enough to make 
Grendel mobile. Their plan was to 
move this worldlet against Laoighise, 
ivhose guardians would not fire on 
their own countrymen, and thus cap- 
ture the disputed asteroid and bring 
it back to their own cluster — after 
which public sentiment would surely 
sweep their party into office, and it 
could make the enterprise retroactive- 
ly official. 

At this point the tramp spaceship 
Mercury Girl, old and battered, bare- 
ly paying her oivn way, landed on 
Grendel. The Erse seized her and 
used her Venusian ownership as an 
excuse for quarantining all Grendel 
for six weeks, on suspicion of plague. 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 



Now there was no danger of any 
Anglian authorities landing and dis- 
covering the true state of affairs, 
which would have been catastrophic 
for the ill-equipped Erse. But their 
action was a disaster for the Mercury 
Girl, part of whose cargo was due 
elseivhere under a stiff penalty con- 
tract. If she suffered so heavy a loss, 
she would he scrapped and her crew 
out of work. CAPTAIN RADHAK- 
RISHNAN protested violently to 
O'Toole. 

Meanwhile the Danish engineer, 
KNUD AXEL SYRUP, bicycled into 
Grendel Town to see if the consignee 
would at least pay for the cargo to be 
delivered locally, cases and out she 
kegs of beer, pretzels and popcorn, 
all for the Alt Heidelberg Rathskel- 
ler. He found that the tavern had 
been acquired by a Martian, as avari- 
cious and tentacled as all his race, 
who now called himself SARMISH- 
K1DU VON HIMMELSCHMIDT 
and tried to speak with a German 
accent. Though the Erse were con- 
vivial and correctly behaved, business 
ivas now so bad, and the forthcoming 
vacation trade would be so thorough- 
ly ruined, that he could not accept 
the cargo. He would probably go 
bankrupt as it was. 

The vicar’s charming daughter, 
EMILY CROFT, appeared, scantily 
clad in pseudo-Hellenic garb; she 
was Grendel’ s solitary Duncanite, a 
believer in natural foods and classical 
dance. Nevertheless, she had become 
f riendly with Sarmishkidu, who shar- 
ed her interest in the Attic drama as 
well as remaining a mathematician. 

A BICYCLE BUILT FOR BREW 



She had tried unsuccessfully to raise 
Grendel against the invaders. Since 
then she had been seeing a good deal 
of MAJOR RORY MC CONNELL, 
a large cheerful young Ers email ivho 
was much taken ivith her and for 
whom she admitted feeling an at- 
traction. McConnell himself followed 
her into the tavern, but she repulsed 
him; somewhat conscience-stricken 
at the distress his expedition here was 
causing, he soon left again. After 
numerous beers, Herr Syrup bicycled 
back to his ship. Her captain and 
crew had gone raging off to wreck 
the Erse geegee being installed; but 
they succeeded only in getting them- 
selves arrested. Herr Syrup was left 
alone on the ship ivith his pet,, the 
talking crow CLAUS. 

The ship’s internal-field compen- 
sator, which furnished a steady one 
gravity under free fall or acceleration, 
had been giving some trouble. Con- 
ceiving a plan, Herr Syrup sabotaged 
the unit in a most un-obvious way, 
went to O’Toole, and demanded his 
legal right to make repairs — which 
would necessitate putting the Mercury 
Girl into orbit about Grendel. 
O’Toole naturally feared an attempt 
would be made to contact New Win- 
chester; he had already sequestrated 
all the ship’s radio and radar. Hen- 
Syrup suggested a guard be put 
aboard with him. His plan was to 
construct a poiverful spark-gap oscil- 
lator out of the ship’s spare electrical 
parts and call the Anglian capital in 
Morse code. He could do this under 
the nose of a guard ignorant of tech- 
nology. O’Toole, suspecting a plot, 

113 



PART 2 



employed a legal technicality himself-, 
the ship could not lift without a crew 
of at least three, and all the other 
spacemen were in jail. 

Herr Syrup got around this by sign- 
ing on Emily and Sarmishkidu. But 
then Rory McConnell appointed him- 
self the guard. Being a trained space- 
man, the major was quite able to 
help work on the compensator. 
Furthermore, aware that a dot-dash 
radio could be made, McConnell 
locked all the electrical parts into a 
cabinet in the engine room, kept its 
key and announced he would sleep 
beside it. 

The Mercury Girl assumed her or- 
bit. An artificial gravity field was sup- 
plied by reversing engine polarity, 
though this immobilized the ship. 
Herr Syrup asked Emily to keep Mc- 
Connell on the bridge a few hours, 
while he picked the cabinet lock attd 
smuggled out the parts he needed. 
Emily, with no vamping experience, 
bungled the job rather badly. First 
she asked McConnell outright to help 
overthrow the Erse force. He admit- 
ted he did not personally care • who 
owned Laoighise and had joined 
merely for a lark; but now his oath 
was given and he would stattd by his 
comrades. Then Emily tried to dis- 
tract him, modeling her behavior on 
that of lady spies in books. Thus 
overdone, her actions so infuriated 
him that he stormed off the bridge. 

Sincerity and honesty have long 
been considered virtues, hut some- 
times they are definite detriments; 
with both Love and War involved, 
they were positive catastrophes. 

114 



NUD AXEL SYRUP 
, paused a moment in the 
after tranverse corridor. 
The bulkhead which 
faced him bore a sten- 
ciled KEEP OUT and three doors: 
the middle one directly to the engine 
room, the right-hand one to the ma- 
chine shop and the left to his small 
private cabin. These two side cham- 
bers also had doors opening directly 
on the engine room. It made for a 
lack of privacy distressing in the 
present cloak-and-dagger situation. 

However, the wild Erseman would 
no doubt be up on the bridge for 
hours. Herr Syrup sighed, a little en- 
viously, and went through the central 
door. 

"Awwrk,” said Claus, flapping in 
from the cabin. "Norn d'un nom 
d’une vache! Schweinhund!” 

"Exactly,” said Herr Syrup. He 
entered the little bathroom behind 
the main energy converter and ex- 
tracted a bottle of beer from a cooler 
which he had installed himself. Claus 
paced impatiently along a rheostat. 
Herr Syrup crumbled a pretzel for 
him and poured a little beer into a 
saucer. The crow jabbed his beak into 
the liquid, tilted back his black head, 
shook out his feathers, and croaked: 
"Gaudeamus igiturl”, 

"You’re velcome,” said Herr Syr- 
up. He inspected the locked electrical 
cabinet. Duplicating a Yale key would 
call for delicate instruments and 
skilled labor. After latching all doors 
to the outside, he went into the ma- 




ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 



chine shop, selected various items, 
and returned. First, perhaps, a wire 
into the slot . . . 

The main door shivered under a 
mule kick. Faintly through its insulat- 
ed metal thickness came a harsh 
roar: "Open up, ye auld scut, or Oi-11 
crack the outer hatches an’ let ye 
choke!” 

"Yumping Yupiter,” said Herr 
Syrup. 

He pattered across the room and 
admitted Rory McConnell, who glar- 
ed down upon him and snarled: "So 
’tis up to your sneakin’ thricks ye are 
again, eh? Throw a pretty face an’ 
long legs at me an’ — Aaargh ! Be off 
wi’ yez!” 

"But,” bleated Herr Syrup. "But 
vas you not talkin’ vit’ Miss Croft?” 
t "Oi was,” said McConnell. " 'Tis 
not a mistake Oi’ll make ag’in. Go 
tell her to save her charms for bigger 
fools than me. Oi’m goin’ to slape 
now.” He tore off his various weap- 
ons, laid them beside his pack, and 
sat down on the floor. "Git out!’’ he 
rapped, fumbling at a boot zipper. 
His face was like fire. "Tomorry per- 
haps Oi can look at ye wi’out 
bokin’ !” 

"Oh, dear,” said Herr Syrup. 

"Oh, shucks,” said Claus, though 
not in jilst those words. 

Herr Syrup picked up his miscel- 
laneous tools and stole back into the 
workshop. A moment afterward he 
remembered his bottle of beer and 
stuck his head back through the com- 
municating door. McConnell threw 
a boot at him. Herr Syrup closed the 

A. BICYCLE BUILT FOR BREW 



door and toddled out to make another 
requisition on the cargo. 

Having done so, he stopped by the 
saloon. Emily was there, her face in 
her arms, her body slumped over the 
table and shuddering with sobs. At 
the far end sat Sarmishkidu, puffing 
his Tyrolean pipe and making calcu- 
lations. 

"Oh, dear,” said Herr Syrup again, 
helplessly. 

"Can you not console her?” asked 
Sarmishkidu, rolling an eye in his 
direction. "I have endeavored to do 
so, and am sorry to report absolute 
failure.” 

Herr Syrup took a strengthening 
pull from his bottle. 

"You see,” explained the Martian, 
"her noise distracts me.” 

He fumed smoke for a dour mo- 
ment. "I should at least think,” he 
whined, "that having dragged me 
here, away from my livelihood and 
all the small comforts which mean 
so much to a poor lonely exile among 
aliens like myself — sustaining, heart- 
ening consolations which already I 
find myself in sore need of — namely 
a table of elliptic integrals — having 
so ruthlessly forced me into the 
trackless depths of outer space, and 
apparently not even to any good pur- 
pose, she would have the consider- 
ation not to sit there and weep at 
me.” 

"Dere, dere,” said Herr Syrup, 
patting the girl’s shoulder. 

"Uhhhhh,” said Emily. 

"Dere, dere, dere,” continued Herr 
Syrup. 

The girl raised streaming eyes and 

115 



sobbed pathetically: "Oh, go to hell.” 

"Vat happened vit’ you and de 
mayor?” 

A bit startled, Emily sniffed out: 
"Why, nothing, unless you mean that 
time last year when he asked me to 
preside at the Ladies’ Potato Race, 

during the harvest festi Oh ! The 

major!” She returned her face to her 
arms. "Uhhhh-hoo-hoo-hoo!” 

"I gather she tried to seduce him 
and failed,” said Sarmishkidu. "Nat- 
urally, her professional pride is in- 
jured.” 

Emily leaped to her feet. "What 
do you mean, professional?” she 
screeched. 

"Vy, vy, nottings,” stammered 
Sarmishkidu, retreating into a differ- 
ent character. "I chust meant your 
female prides. All vimmen iss fe- 
males by profession, nicht war? Dot 
iss ein choke. Ha, ha,” he added, to 
make certain he would be under- 
stood. 

"And I didn’t try to. . . to . . . 
Oh!” Emily stormed out of the sa- 
loon. A string of firecracker Greek 
trailed after her. 

"Vat is she saying?” gaped Herr 
Syrup. 

Herr von Himmelschmidt turned 
pale. "Please don’t to ask,” he said. 
"I did not know she vas familiar mit 
dot edition of Aristophanes.” 

"Helledusse!” said the engineer 
moodily. "Ve ban hashed now.” 

"Hm-m-m,” muttered Sarmishkidu. 
"It is correct that the enemy is armed 
and we are not: Nevertheless, it is an 
observational datum that there are 
three of us and only one of him, and 

ns 



so if we could separate him from his 
weapons, even briefly, and — ” 

"And ?” 

"Oh. Well, nothing, I suppose.” 
Sarmishkidu brooded. "True,” he said 
at last, "one of him would still be 
equivalent to four or five of us.” He 
pounded the table with an indignant 
hand. Since the hand, being boneless, 
merely flopped when it struck, this 
was not very dramatic. "It is most 
unfair of him,” he squeaked. "Gang- 
ing up on us like that.” 

Herr Syrup stiffened with thought. 
"Unlautere Wettbewerb,” ampli- 
fied the Martian. 

"Do you know — ” whispered the 
Dane. 

"What?” 

"I hate to do dis. It does not seem 
right. I know it is not right. But by 
Yoe, maybe he ban asleep now!” 

The idea dawned on Sarmishkidu. 
"Well; I’ll be an unelegantly proven 
lemma,” he breathed. "So he doubt- 
less is.” 

"And for veapons, in de machine 
shop is all de tools. Like wrenches, 
hammers, vire cable — ” 

"Blowtorches,” added Sarmishkidu 
eagerly. "Hacksaws, sulfuric acid — •” 
"No, hey, vait dere! Yust a min- 
ute! I don’t vant to hurt him. Yust 
a little bonk on de head to make him 
sleep sounder, vile ve tie him up, dat’s 
all.” Herr Syrup leaped erect. "Let’s 
go!” 

"Good luck,” said Sarmishkidu, re- 
turning to his calculations. 

"Vat? But hey! Is you leaving me 
to do dis all alone?” 

Sarmishkidu looked up. "Go!” he 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 



said in a ringing croak. "Remember 
the Vikings! Remember Gustavus 
Adolphus ! Remember King Christian 
standing by the high mast in smoke 
and steam ! The blood of heroes is in 
your veins — go, go to glory !’’ 

Fired, Herr Syrup started for the 
door. He stopped there and asked 
wistfully, "Don’t you vant a little 
glory, too?” 

Sarmishkidu blew a smoke ring 
and scribbled an equation. "I am 
more the intellectual type,” he said. 

"Oh.” Herr Syrup sighed and went 
down the corridors. His resolution 
endured till he actually stood in the 
workshop, by the glow of a dim night 
light, hefting a pipe wrench. Then 
he wavered. 

The sound of deep, regular breath- 
ing assured him that Major McCon- 
nell slept in the adjoining chamber. 
But — "I don’t vant to hurt him,” re- 
peated Herr Syrup. "I could so easy 
clop him too hard.” He shuddered. 
"Or not hard enough. I better make 
another reqvisition on de cargo first — 
No. Here ve go.” Puffing out his 
mustache and mopping the sweat off 
his pate, the descendant of Vikings 
tiptoed into the engine room. 

Rory McConnell would scarcely 
have been visible at all, had his taste 
in pajamas not ran to iridescent syn- 
thesilc embroidered with tiny sham- 
rocks. As it was, his body, sprawled 
on a military bedroll, seemed in the 
murk to stretch on and on, intermin- 
ably, besides having more breadth 
and thickness than was fair in any- 
thing but a gorilla. Herr Syrup hunk- 
ered shakily down by the massive 

A BICYCLE BUILT FOR BREW 



redhead, squinted till he had a spot 
just behind one ear identified, and 
raised his weapon. 

There was a snick of metal. The 
wan light glimmered along a pistol 
barrel. It prodded Herr Syrup’s nose. 
He let out a yelp and broke all Olym- 
pic records for the squatting high 
jump. 

Rory McConnell chuckled. "Oi’m 
a sound slaper whin no wan else 
comes snaykin’ close to me,” he said, 
but Oi ve hunted in too many for- 
ests not to awaken thin. Good night, 
Misther Syrup.” 

"Good night,” said Knud Axel 
Syrup in a low voice. 

Blushing, he went back to the 
machine room. He waited there a 
moment, ashamed to return to his 
cabin past McConnell and yet angry 
that he must detour. Oh, the devil 
with it! He heard the slow breath of 
slumber resume. Viciously, he slam- 
med his tool back into the rack loud- 
ly enough to wake an estivating 
Venusian. The sleeper did not even 
stir. And that was the most unkindest 
cut of all. 

Stamping his feet, slamming doors, 
and kicking panels as he went by — - 
all without so much as breaking the 
calm rhythm of Rory McConnell’s 
lungs — Herr Syrup took the round- 
about way to his cabin. He switched 
on the light and pointed a finger at 
Claus. The crow hopped off the Se- 
lected Works of Oehlenschlager and 
perched on the finger. 

"Claus,” said Herr Syrup, not quite 
bellowing, "repeat after me: McCon- 

117 



nell is a louse. McConnell is no good. 
McConnell eats vorms. On Friday. 
McConnell — ” 

— slept on. 

Herr Syrup decided at last to retire 
himself. With a final sentence for 
Claus to memorize, an opinion in 
crude language of Major McConnell’s 
pajamas, he took off his own clothes 
and slipped a candy-striped nightshirt 
over his head. Stretched out in his 
bunk, he counted herrings for a full 
half hour before realizing that he was 
more awake than ever. 

"Satans ogscia,” he mumbled, and 
switched on the light and reached 
at random for a book. It turned out 
to be a poetry anthology. He opened 
it and read: 

. . The secret working of the 
yeast of life.” 

"Yudas,” he groaned. "Yeast.” 

For a moment Herr Syrup, though 
ordinarily the gentlest of men, enter- 
tained bloodshot fantasies of turning 
the ship’s atomic-hydrogen torch into 
a sort of science-fiction blaster and 
burning Major McConnell down. 
Then he decided that it was imprac- 
tical and that all he could do was 
requisition a case of lager and thus 
get to sleep. Or at least pass the night 
watch more agreeably. 

He decorated his feet with outsize 
slippers and padded into the corri- 
dor. 

Emily Croft jumped. "Oh!” she 
squeaked, whipping her robe about 
her. The engineer brightened a little, 
having glimpsed that her own taste 
in sleeping apparel ran merely to 
what nature had provided. 

118 



"Vich is sure better dan little 
green clovers,” he muttered. 

"Oh . . . you startled me.” The 
girl blinked. "What did you say?” 

"Dat crock in dere.” Herr Syrup 
jerked a splay thumb at the engine 
room door. "He goes to bed in shiny 
payamas vit’ shamrocks measled all 
over.” 

"Oh, dear,” said Emily. "I hope 
his wife can teach him — ” She skid- 
ded to a halt and blushed. "I mean, 
if any woman would be so foolish as 
to have such a big oaf.” 

"I doubt it,’’ snarled the Dane. "I 
bet he snores.” 

"He does not!” Emily stamped her 
foot. 

"Oh-ho,” said Herr Syrup. "You 
ban listening?” 

"I was only out for a constitutional 
in the hope of overcoming an un- 
fortunate insomnia,” said Miss Croft 
primly. "It was sheer chance which 
took me past here. I mean, anybody 
who can lie there like a pig and, and, 
and sleep when — ” She clouded up 
for a rainstorm. "I mean, how could 
he?” 

"Veil, but you don’t care about 
him anyvay, do you?” 

"Of course not! I hope he rots, I 
mean decays. No, I don't actually 
mean that, you know, because even if 
he is an awful ' lout he is still a hu- 
man being and, well, I would just 
like to teach him a lesson. I mean, 
teach him to have more consideration 
for others and not go right to sleep 
as if nothing at all had happened, 
because I could see that he was hurt 
and if he had only given me a chance 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 



to explain, I — Oh, never mind!” 
Emily clenched her fists and stamped 
her foot again. "I’d just like to lock 
him up in there, since he’s sleeping 
so soundly. That would teach him 
that other people have feelings even 
if he doesn’t!” 



"By yiminy,” whispered Herr Syr- 
up. "By yumping yiminy.” 

”Oh, really now, it isn’t that bad. 
I mean, I know we’re in an awful 
pickle and all that sort of thing, but 
really — ” 

"No. I got it figured. I got a vay 
to get de Erser off of our necks!” 




"What?” 

"fa, jet, ja, it is so simple I could 
beat my old knucklebone brains dat 
I don’t t’ink of it right avay. Look, so 
long as ve stay out of de enshine room 
he sleeps just like de dummy in a 
bridge game vaiting for de last 
trump. No? O.K., so I close all de 
doors to him, dere is only t’ree, dis 
main vun and vun to my cabin and 
vun to de vorkshop. I close dem and 



Herr Syrup’s jaw dropped with an 
audible clank. 

Emily’s eyes widened. One small 
hand stole to her mouth. "Oh,” she 
said, "is anything wrong?” 



A BICYCLE BUILT FOR BREW 



119 



veld dem shut and dere he is!” 

Emily gasped. 

She leaped forward and kissed him. 

"Yudas priest,” murmured Herr 
Syrup faintly. His revolving eyeballs 
slowed and he licked his lips. "Yank 
you very kind,” he said. 

"You’re wonderful!’’ glowed Emi- 
ly, brushing mustache hairs off her 
nose. 

And then, suddenly: "No. No, we 
can’t. I mean, he’ll be right in there 
with the machinery and if he turns 
it off — 

"Dat’s O.K. All de generators and 
t’ings is locked in deir shieldings, 
and dose keys I have got.” Herr Syr- 
up stumped quickly down the hall 
and into the machine shop. "His 
guns does him no good behind velded 
alloy plating.” He selected a torch, 
plugged it in, and checked the cur- 
rent. "So. Please to hand me dat hel- 
met and apron and dose gloves. Don’t 
look bare-eyed at de flame.” 

Gently, he closed the side door. 
Momentarily he was terrified that Mc- 
Connell would awaken: not that the 
Erseman would do him any harm, 
but the scoundrel was so unfairly 
large. However, even the reek of 
burning paint, which sent Emily gag- 
ging back into the corridor, failed to 
stir him. 

Herr Syrup plugged his torch to a 
drum of extension cord and trailed 
after her. "Tum-te-tum-te-tum,” he 
warbled, attacking the main door. 
"How does' dat old American vork 
song go ? Y ohn Henry said to de cap- 
tain, veil, a man ain’t not’ing but a 
man, but before I ompty-tumty-some- 

120 



t’ing-somet’ing, I'll die vit’ a some- 
t'ing-umpty-tum, Lord, Lord, I’ll die 
vit’ a tiddly-tiddly-pom!” He finished 
the job. "And now to my cabin, and 
ve is t’ rough.” 

Emily’s mouth quivered. "I do hate 
to do this,” she said. "I mean, he is 
such a darling . . . no, of course he 
isn’t, I mean he’s an oaf, but . . . n'ot 
really an oaf either, he just has never 
had a chance to — Oh, you know 
what I mean ! And now he’ll be shut 
away in there, all alone, for days and 
days and days.” 

Herr syrup paused. "You can talk 
to him on de intercom,” he sug- 
gested. 

"What?” She elevated her nose. 
"That big lout? Let him sit all alone! 
Maybe then he can see there are other 
people in the universe besides him- 
self!” 

Herr Syrup entered his cabin and ' 
began to close the inner door. 

"McConnell is a four- lettering love 
child!” screamed Claus. 

"He is not either!” yelled Emily, 
turning red. 

There was a stir in the engine-room 
darkness. "Fwhat’s all that racket out 
there?” complained a lilting basso. 
"Is it not enough to bhreak me heart, 
ye must kape me from the slipe which 
is me wan remainin’ comfort?” 

"Sorry,” said Herr Syrup, and 
closed the door. 

"Hey, there!” bawled McConnell. 
He bounced off his bedroll. The vi- 
bration of it shivered in the metal. 
"Fwhat’s goin’ on?” 

"Yust lie down,” babbled Herr 
Syrup. "Go back to sleep.” His 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 



cracked baritone soared as he switch- 
ed on the torch. Sparks showered 
about him. "Lullaby-y-y and good 
night, dy-y-y mo-o-o-der’s deli- 
ight—” 

"Ah, ha!” McConnell thundered 
toward the door. "So ’tis cannin’ me 
ye are, ye treacherous Black-an’- 
Tanners! We’ll see about that!” 

"Look out!” screamed Emily. 
"Look out, Rory! It’s hot!” 

A torrent of Gaelic oaths, which 
made Claus gape in awe, informed 
her that McConnell had discovered 
this for himself. Herr Syrup played 
the flame up and down and cross- 
ways. A tommy gun rattled on the 
other side, but" the Girl, though old, 
was of good solid construction, and 
nothing happened but a nasty spang 
of ricochet. 

"Don’t!” pleaded Emily. "Don’t, 
Rory! You’ll kill yourself! Oh, Rory, 
be careful!” 

Herr Syrup cut off his torch, slap- 
ped back his helmet, and looked with 
enormous self-congratulation at the 
slowly cooling seams. "Dere, now,” 
he said. "Dat’s dat!” 

Claus squawked. The engineer 
turned around just in time to see his 
bunk blankets spring up in flame. 

Emily leaned against the wall and 
cried through smoke and fire extin- 
guisher fumes: "Rory, Rory! Are 
you all right, Rory?” 

"Oh, yiss, Oi’m aloive,” growled 
the voice behind the panels. "It 
playses ye better .to let me thirst an’ 
starve to death in here than kill me 
honestly, eh?” 

A BICYCLE BUILT FOR BREW 



"On ma dial” gasped the girl. "I 
didn’t think of that!’’ 

"Yiss, yiss. Tell it to the King’s 
marines.” 

"Just a minute!” she begged, fran- 
tic. "Just a minute and I’ll get you 
out ! Rory, I swear I never — Look 
out, I’ll have to cut the door open — ” 

Herr Syrup dropped the plastifoam 
extinguisher and clapped a hand on 
her wrist as she picked up the torch. 
"Vat you ban doing?” he yelped. 

"I’ve got to release him!” cried 
Emily. "We’ve got to! He hasn’t 
anything in there to keep him alive!” 

Herr Syrup gave her a long stare. 
"So you t’ink his life is vort’ more 
dan all de folk vat maybe get killed 
if dere is a var, huh?” he asked 
slowly. 

"Yes . . . no . . . oh, I don't 
know!” sobbed the girl, struggling 
in his grasp and kicking at his ankles. 
"We’ve got to let him out, that’s 
all!” 

"Now vait, vait yust a minute. I 
fought of dis problem right avay. It 
is not -so hard. Dere is ventilar shafts 
running all t’rough de ship, maybe 
ten centimeters diameter. Ve just un- 
screw a fan in vun and drop down 
cans of space rations to him. And a 
can opener, natural. It vill not hurt 
him to eat cold beans and drink beer 
for a vile. He has also got a bat’room 
in dere, and I t’ink a pack of cards. 
He vill be O.K.” 

"Oh, thank God!” whispered 
Emily. 

She put her lips close to the door 
and called: "Did you hear that, Rory? 
We’ll send you food through the 

121 



ventilator. And don't worry about it 
being just cold beans. I mean, I’ll 
make you nice hot lunches and wrap 
them well so you can get them in- 
tact. I’m not a bad cook, Rory, hon- 
estly, I’ll prove it to you. Oh, and do 
you have a razor? Otherwise I’ll find 
one for you. I mean, you don’t want 
to come out all bristly ... I mean — 
Oh, never mind !” 

"So,” rumbled the prisoner. "Yiss, 
Oi heard.” Suddenly he shouted with 
laughter. "Ah, ’tis swate iv yez, dar- 
lin’, but it won’t be naydful. Ye’ll be 
relaysin’ me in a day or two at the 
most.” 

Herr Syrup started and glared at 
the door. "Vat’s dat?” he snapped. 

"Why, ’tis simple ’tis. For the 
loifeboats are down on Grendel, an’ 
ayven the propulsive units iv ivry 
spacesuit aboard, not to spake iv the 
radjo an’ radar, an’ the spare elec- 
thrical parts is all in here with me. 
An’ so, for the matter iv it, is the 
injins. Ye can’t git the King’s help, 
ye can’t ayven git back to ground, 
without a by-your-layve from me. So 
Oi’ll expect ye to open the door in as 
few hours as it takes for that fact to 
sink home into the square head iv- 
yez. Haw, haw, haw!” 

"Del var som fanden,” said the 
engineer. 

"Fwhat?” 

"De hell you say. I got to look into 
dis.” Herr Syrup scurried from the 
cabin, his nightgown flapping about 
his hairy shanks and the forgotten 
fire extinguisher still jetting plasti- 
foam on the floor behind him. 

"Oh, dear.” Emily wrung her 

122 



hands. "We just don’t have any 
luck.” 

McConnell’s voice came back: 
"Niwer ye mind, macushla, for Oi 
heard how ye feared for me loife, an’ 
that at a moment whin ye thought 
ye’d the upper hand. So ’tis humbly 
Oi ask your pardon for all I said 
earlier this night. ’Twas a good 
thrick ye’ve played on me now, even 
if it did not work, an’ minny a long 
winther evenin’ we’ll whoile away in 
afther years a-laughin’ at it.” 

"Oh, Rory!” breathed Emily, lean- 
ing against the door. 

"Oh, Emily!” breathed McConnell 
on his side. 

"Rory!” whispered the girl, clos- 
ing her eyes. 

The unnoticed plastifoam crept up 
toward her ears. 

• Sarmishkidu slithered into the 
Number Three hold and found Herr 
Syrup huddled gloomily beneath one 
of the enormous beer casks. He had 
a mug in one hand and the tap of 
the keg in the other. Claus perched 
on a rack muttering: "Damn Rory 
McConnell. Damn anybody who von’t 
damn Rory McConnell. Damn any- 
body who von’t sit up all night 
damning Rory McConnell.” 

"Oh, there you are,” said the 
Martian. "Your breakfast has gotten 
cold.” 

"I don’t vant no breakfast,” said 
Herr Syrup. He tossed off his mug 
and tapped it full again. 

"Not even after your triumph last 
watch?” 

"Vat good is a triumph ven I ain’t 
ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 



triumphant? I have sealed him into de 
cnshine room, ja, vich is to say ve 
can’t move de ship from dis orbit. 
You see, de polarity reverser vich I 
installed on de geegee lines, to give 
us veight, is in dere vit’ him, and ve 
can’t travel till it has been taken out 
again. So ve can’t go direct to New 
Vinshester ourselves. And he has 
also de electrical parts locked up vit’ 
him.” 

"I have never sullied my mathe- 
matics with any attempt at a merely 
practical application,” said Sarmish- 
kidu piously, "but I have studied 
electromagnetic theory and it would 
appear upon integration of the Max- 
well equations that you could rip out 
wires here and there, machine the 
bar and plate metal stored for repair 
work in the shop, and thus improvise 
an oscillator.” 

"Sure,” said Herr Syrup. "Dat is 
easy. But remember, New Vinshester 
is about ten t’ousand kilometers 
avay. Any little laboratory model 
powered just oft’ a 220-volt line to 
some cabin, is not going to carry a 
broadcast dat far. At least, not vim 
vich has a reasonable shance of being 
noticed dere in all de cosmic noise. 
I do have access to some powerful 
batteries. 

"By dissharshing dem very qvick, 
ve can send a strong signal; 
but short-lived, so it is not likely in 
so little a time dat anyvun on de 
capital asteroid is listening in on dat 
particular wavelength For you see, 
vit’ out de calibrated standards and 
meters vich McConnell has, I cannot 
control de frequency. Mush most 

A BICYCLE BUILT FOR BREW 



likely it vould happen ve broadcast 
on a freqvency vich no vun of New 
Vinshester’s small population uses or 
is tuned in on.” 

He sighed. "No, I have spent de 
night trying to figure out somet’ing, 
and all I get is de answer I had be- 
fore. To make an SOS dat vill have 
any measurable shance of being 
heard, ve shall have to have good 
cable, good impedances, meters and 
so on — vich McConnell is now sitting 
on. 

"Or else ve shall have to run for 
a long time t’rough many unknown 
frgqvencies, to be sure of getting at 
least vun vich vill be heard; and for 
dat ve shall have to use de enshine 
room generator, vich McConnell is 
also sitting on.” 

"He is?” Sarmishkidu brightened. 
"But it puts out a good many thou- 
sands of volts, doesn’t it?” 

"I vas speaking figurative, damn 
de luck.” Herr Syrup put the beet- 
mug to his lip, lifted his mustache 
out of the way with a practiced fore- 
finger, and bobbed his Adam’s apple 
for a while. 

Sarmishkidu folded his walking 
tentacles and let down his bulbous 
body. He waggled his ears, rolled his 
eyeballs, and protested: "But ve can't 
gift up yets! Ve chust can’t! Here iss 
all dis beautiful beer vot I could sell 
at fifty percents profit, even if I haft 
der pretzels und popcorn free. Und 
vot goot iss it doing? None!” 

"Oh, I vouldn’t say dat,” answered 
Herr Syrup, a trifle blearily, and drew 
another mugful. 

"Dis lot has too much carbonation 

123 



for my taste,” he complained. "You 
t’ink I ban an American? It makes 
too mush head.’’ 

"Dot iss. on special order from 
me,’’ confided the Martian. "In der 
head iss der profit, if vun iss not 
too chenerous in scraping it off.” 
"You is got too many arms and not 
enough soul,” said Herr Syrup. "I 
t’ink for dat I let you clean out my 
cabin. It is got full vit’ congealed 
plastifoam. And to make a new fire 
extingvisher for it, vy, I take a bottle 
of your too carbonated beer and if 
dere is a fire I shake it and take my 
t’umb off de mout’ and — Of course,” 
mused Herr Syrup, "could be you 
got so much CO„ coming out, I get 
t’rown backyards.” 

"If you don’t like my beer,” said 
Sarmishkidu, half closing his eyes, 
"you can chust let me half der stein 
you got.” 

"Action and reaction,” said Herr 
Syrup. 

"Hm-m-m?” 

"Newton’s t’ird law.” 

"Yes, yes, yes, but what relevance 
does that have to — ” 

"Beer. I shoot beer out de front 
end of de bottle, I get tossed on my 
can.” 

"But you said it was a bottle.” 
"—a, ja, ja, ja — ” 

" Weiss’ nicht wie gut ich dir bin?’’ 
sang the Martian. 

"I mean,” said Herr Syrup, wag- 
ging a solemn finger, "de bottle is a 
kind of rocket. Vy, it could even . . . 
it could even — ” 

His voice ground to a halt. The 
mug dropped from his hand and 

J24 



the beer splashed on the floor. 
"Beerslayer!” screamed Claus. 

"But darlin’,” said Rory McCon- 
nell into the intercom, "Oi don’t 
loike dried apricots.” 

"Oh, hush,” said Emily Croft from 
the galley. "You’ve never been 
healthier in your life.” 

"Oi feels loike Oi’m rottin’ away. 
Not through the monotony so much, 
me swate, whilst Oi can be hearin’ 
the soft voice iv yez, but the only 
ixercoise Oi can get is calisthinics, 
which has always bored me grievous.” 
"True,” said Emily, "all those fuel 
pipes and things don’t leave much 
room for classical dancing, do they? 
Poor dear!” 

"Oi’d thrade me mither’s brown 
pig for a walk in the rain wi’ yez, 
macushla.” 

"Well, if you’d only give us your 
parole not to make trouble, dear, we 
could let you out this minute.” 

"No, ye well know the Force has 
me prior oath an’ the Force Oi’ll 
foight for till ’tis disbanded either 
through victhory or defayt. An’ how 
long will it take the auld omadhaun 
Syrup to realaze ’tis him has been de- 
fayted? Oi’ve lain in here almost a 
wayk be the clock. Oi hear noises day 
an’ noight from the machine room, 
an’ divvil a word Oi can git iv fwhat’s 
goin’ on. Let me out, swateheart! Oi 
bear no ill will. Oi’ll kiss the pretty 
lips iv ye an’ we’ll all go down to 
Grendel an’ say nothin’ about fwhat’s 
happened. Save iv course that Oi’ve 
won the loveliest girl in the galaxy 
for me own.” 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 



"I wish I could,” sighed Emily. 
"How I wish it! 'O' Dion who sent 
my heart mad with love!’ ” 

"Who’s this Dion?” bristled Major 
McConnell. 

"Nobody you need worry about, 
dear. It’s only a quotation. Translated, 
naturally. But what I mean to say is, 
Mr. Syrup and Mr. Sarmishkidu have 
so much to take care of and 'it won’t 
be long now, I swear it won’t, just 
another day or two, they say, and 
then their project will be over and 
they can — Oh ! I promised not to tell ! 
But what I mean, dear, is that I’ll 
stay behind and I’m not supposed to 
let you out immediately, maybe not 
for still another day, but I’ll look 
after you and make you nice lunches 
and — Yes,” said Emily with a slight 
shudder, "there won’t even be any 
more dried fruit in your .meals, be- 
cause I’ve ran out of what there' was; 
in fact, for days now I’ve been giving 
it all to you and eating corned beef 
and drinking beer myself, and I must 
admit it tastes better than I remem- 
bered, so if you insist on calcifying 
your liver after we’re married, why, 
I suppose I’ll have to also, and actual- 
ly, darling, I don’t know anyone who 
I’d rather calcify my liver with. 
Really.” 

"Fwhat is all this?” Rory McCon- 
nell stepped back, his big frame 
tensing. "Ye mane they’ve not jist 
been puttherin’ about, but have some 
plan?” 

"I mustn’t tell! Please, beloved, 
honestly. I’ve been sworn to absolute 
secrecy, and now I must go. They 
need me to help, too. I have been in- 

A BICYCLE BUILT FOE BREW 



stalling pipe lines and things and 
actually, dear, it’s very exciting. 1 
mean, when I use a welding torch T 
have to wear a helmet very much like 
a classical dramatic mask, so I stand 
there reciting from the Agamemnon 
as if I were on a real Athenian stage, 
and do you know, I think when this 
is all over and we’re married and 
have our own Greek theater in the 
garden I’ll organize a presentation of 
the whole Orestes trilogy — in the 
original, of course — with welding out- 
fits. ’Bye now!” Emily blew a kiss 
down the intercom and pattered off. 

Rory McConnell sat down on a 
generator shield and began most 
furiously to think. 

The first beer-powered spaceship 
in history rested beneath a derrick by 
the main cargo hatch. 

It was not as impressive as Herr 
Syrup could have wished. Using a 
small traveling lift for the heavy 
work, he had joined four ten-ton 
casks of Nashornbrau end to end 
with a light framework. The taps 
had been removed from the kegs and 
their bungholes plugged, simple 
electrically-controlled Venturi valves 
in the plumb center being substituted. 
Jutting an orthogonal axes from each 
barrel there were also L-shaped ex- 
haust pipes, by which it was hoped to 
control rotation and sideways motion. 
Various wires and shafts, their points 
of entry sealed with gunk, plunged 
into the barrels, ending in electric 
beaters. A set of relays was intended 
to release each container as it was 
exhausted. The power for all this — 

125 



it did not amount to much — came 
from a system of heavy-duty EXW 
batteries at the front end. 

Ahead of those batteries was fas- 
tened a box, some two meters square 
and three meters long. Sheets of plas- 
tic were set in its black-painted sides 
by way of windows. The Jtorso and 
helmet of a spacesuit j.utted from the 
roof, removably fastened in a screw- 
threaded hatch cover which could be 
turned around. Beside it was a small 
stovepipe valve holding two self- 
closing elastic diaphragms through 
which tools could be pushed without 
undue air loss. The box had been put 
together out of cardboard beer cases, 
bolted to a light metal frame and 
carefully sized and gunked. 

"You see,’’ Herr Syrup had ex- 
plained grandly, "in dis situation, vat 
do ve need to go to New Vinshester? 
Not an atomic motor, for sure, be- 
cause dere is almost neglishible 
gravity to overcome. Not a nice 
streamlined shape, because ve have 
no air hereabouts. Not great structural 
strengt’, for dere is no strain odder 
dan a very easy acceleration; so beer 
cardboard is strong enough for two, 
free men to sit on a box of it under 
Eart’ gravity. Not a fancy t’ ermostatic 
system for so short a hop, for de sun 
is far avay, our own bodies make 
heat and losing dat heat by radiation 
is a slow process. If it does get too 
hot inside, ve can let a little vater 
evaporate into space though de stove- 
pipe valve to cool us; if ve get shilly, 
ve can tap a little heat though a coil 
off de batteries. 

All ve need is air. Not even mush 

126 



air, since I is sitting most of de time 
and you ban a Martian. A pair of 
oxygen cylinders should make more 
dan enough; ja,' and ve vill need a 
chemical, carbon-dioxide absorber, 
and some desiccating stuffs so you do 
not get a vater vapor drunk. For com- 
fort ve vill take along a few bottles 
beer and some pretzels to nibble on. 

"As for de minimal boat itself, I 




ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 






- ( r.TrtjjjHi 


Mr j ? 






nmWrtBB #% 


'/ T ri 

A M 


Wmrn 





A BICYCLE BUILT FOR BREW 



127 



have tested de exhaust velocity of 
hot, agitated beer against vacuum, and 
it is enough to accelerate us to a few 
hundred kilometers per hour, maybe 
t'ree hundred, if ve use a high enough 
mass ratio. And ve vill need a few 
simple navigating instruments, an 
ephemeris, slide rule, and so on. As a 
precaution, I install my bicycle in de 
cabin, hooked to a simple homemade 
g’enerator, yust a little electric motor 
yuggled around to be run in reverse, 
vit’ a rectifier. Dat vay, if de batteries 
get too veak ve can resharshe dem. 
And also a small, primitive oscillator 
ve can make, short range, ja, but able 
to run a gamut of freqvencies vit’ out 
exhausting de batteries, so ve can 
send an SOS ven ve ban qvite close 
to New Vinshester. Dey hear it and 
send a spaceship out to pick us up, 
and dat is dat.” 

The execution of this theory had 
been somewhat more difficult, but 
Herr Syrup’s ears aboard the Mercury 
Girl had made him a highly skilled 
improviser and jackleg inventor. 
Now, tired, greasy, and content, he 
smoked a well-earned pipe as he 
stood admiring his creation. Partly, he 
waited for the electric coils which 
surrounded the boat apd tapped the 
ship’s power lines, to heat the beer 
sufficiently; but that was very nearly 
complete, to the point of unsafe- 
ness. And partly he waited for the 
ship to reach that orbital point which 
would give his boat full tangential 
velocity toward the goal; that would 
be in a couple of hours. 

Er . . . are you sure we had better 



not test it first?” asked Sarmishkidu 
uneasily. 

"No, I t’ink not,” said Herr Syrup. 
"First, it vould take too long to fix 
up an extra barrel. Ve been up here 
a veek or more vit’out a vord to 
Grendel. If O’Toole gets suspicious 
and looks t’ rough a telescope and 
sees us scooting around, right avay he 
sends up a lifeboat full of soldiers; 
vich is a second reason for not mak- 
ing a test flight.” 

"But, well, that is, suppose some- 
thing goes wrong?” 

"Den de spacesuit keeps me alive 
for several hours and you can stand 
vacuum about de same lengt’ of time. 
Emily vill be vatching us t’rough de 
ship’s telescope, so she can let Mc- 
Connell out and he can come rescue 
us.” 

"And what if he can’t find us? Or 
if we have an accident out of telescop- 
ic range from here? Space is a large 
volume.” 

“I prefer you vould not mention 
dat possibility,” said Herr Syrup with 
a touch of hauteur. 

Sarmishkidu shuddered. "Der t’ings 
vot an honest pizznizzman hass got to 
— Donnerwetter! Was ist das?” 

The sharp crack was followed by 
an earthquake tremble through girders 
and plates. Herr Syrup sat down, 
hard. The deck twitched beneath him. 
He bounced up and pelted toward 
the exit. "Dat vas from de stern!” 
he shouted. 

He whipped through the bulkhead 
door, Sarmishkidu toiling in his wake, 
and up an interhold ladder to the 
axial passageway. Emily Croft had 



128 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 



just emerged from the galley, a fry- 
ing pan in one hand and an apron 
tied around her classic peplum. "Oh, 
dear,” she cried, "I’m sure Rory’s 
cake has fallen. What was that 
noise?” 

'Yust vat I vould like, to know.” 
The engineer flung himself down the 
corridor. As he neared the stern, a 
faint acrid whiff touched his nose. 
"In de enshine room, I am afraid,” 
he panted. 

"The engine — Rory!” shrieked the 
girl. 

"Cornin’, macushla,” said a cheer- 
ful voice, and the gigantic red- 
thatched shape swung itself up from 
the after companionway. 

Rory McConnell hooked thumbs 
in his belt, planted his booted feet 
wide, and grinned all over his smoke- 
blackened snub face. Herr Syrup 
crashed to a halt and stared frog- 
eyed. The Erseman’s green tunic 
hung in rags and blood trickled 
from his nose. But the soot only 
made his teeth the more wolfishly 
white and his eyes the more high- 
voltage blue, while his bare torso 
turned out to carry even thicker 
muscles than expected. 

"Well, well, well,” he beamed. 
"An’ so here we all are ag’in. Emily, 
me love, Oi ask your humble pardon 
for inny damage, but Oi couldn’t 
wait longer for the soight iv yez.” 

"Vat have you done?” wailed Herr 
Syrup. 

"Oh, well, sor, ’twas nothin. Oi 
had me carthridges, an’ a can opener 
an’ me teeth an’ ither such tools. So 
Oi exthracted the powder, tamped it 

A BICYCLE BUILT FOR BREW 



in an auld beer bottle, lay a fuse, 
fired me last shot to loight same, an’ 
blew out wan iv thim doors. An’ 
now, sor, let’s have a look at fwhat 
ye been doin’ this past wayk, an’ thin 
Oi think it best we return to the cool 
green hills iv Grendel.” 

"Ooooh,” said Herr Syrup. 

McConnell laughed so that the hall 
rang with his joy, looked into the 
stricken wide gaze of his beloved and 
opened his arms. "Not so much as a 
kiss to seal the bethrothal?” he 
said. 

"Oh . . . yes . . . I’m sorry, dar- 
ling.” Emily ran toward him. 

"I am sorry,” she choked, burst in- 
to tears, and clanged the frying pan 
down on his head. 

McConnell staggered, tripped on 
his boots, recovered, and waltzed in 
a circle. "Get away!” screamed Emily. 
"Get away!” , 

Herr Syrup paused for one frozen 
instant. Then he flung out a curse, 
whirled, and pounded back along the 
corridor. At the interhold ladderhead 
he found Sarmishkidu, puffing along 
at the slow pace of a Martian under 
Terrestrial gee. "What has transpir- 
ed?” asked Sarmishkidu. 

Herr Symp scooped him up under 
one arm and bounded down the lad- 
der. "Hey!” squealed the Martian. 
"Let me go! Bist du ganz geistege- 
slort? What do you mean, sir? Urush 
ner gator shalmu ishkadan! This in- 
stant! Verst eh’ st du?” - 

Rory McConnell staggered to the 
nearest wall and leaned on it for a 
few seconds. His eyes cleared. With 
a hoarse growl, he sprang after the 

129 



engineer. Emily stuck a shapely leg 
in his path. Down he went. 

"Please!” she wept. "Please, dar- 
ling, don’t make me do this!” 

'They’re gettin’ away!” bawled 
McConnell. He got to his feet. Emily 
hit him with the frying pan. He sag- 
ged back to hands and knees. She 
stooped over him, frantically, and 
kissed the battered side of his head. 
He lurched erect. Emily slugged him 
again. 

"You’re being cruel!” she sobbed. 

The bulkhead door closed behind 
Herr Syrup. He set the unloading 
controls. "Ve ban getting out of 
here,” he panted. "Before de Erser 
gets to de master svitch and stops 
everyt’ing cold.” 

"What Erser?” sputtered Sarmish- 
kidu indignantly. 

"Ours.” Herr Syrup trotted toward 
the beer boat. 

"Oh, that one!” Sarmishkidu hur- 
ried after him. 

Herr Syrup climbed to the top of 
his boat’s hull and lifted the space 
armor torso. Sarmishkidu swarmed 
after him like a herpetarium gone 
mad. The Dane dropped the Martian 
inside, took a final checkaround, and 
lowered himself. He screwed the 
spacesuit into place and hunched, 
breathing heavily. His bicycle head- 
lamp was the only illumination in 
the box. It showed him the bicycle 
itself, braced upright with the little 
generator hitched to its rear wheel; 
the pants of his space armor, seated 
on a case of beer; a bundle of navi- 
gation instruments, tables, pencils, 

130 



slide rule, and note pad; a tool box; 
two oxygen cylinders and a CO.,- 
H„0 absorber unit with an electric 
blower, which would also circulate 
the air as needed during free fall; the 
haywired control levers which were 
supposed to steer the boat; Sarmish- 
kidu, draped on a box of pretzels; 
and Claus, disdainfully stealing from 
a box of popcorn which Herr Syrup 
suddenly realized he had no way of 
popping. And then, of course, him- 
self. 

It was rather cramped quarters. 

The air pump roared, evacuating 
the chamber. Herr Syrup saw dark- 
ness thicken outside the boat win- 
dows, as the fluoro light ceased to be 
diffused. And then the great hatch 
swung ponderously open, and steel 
framed a blinding circle of stars. 

"Hang on!” he yelled. "Here ve 
go!” 

The derrick scanned the little boat 
with beady photoelectric eyes, seized 
it in four claws, lifted it, and pitched 
it delicately through the hatch, which 
thereupon closed with an air of good 
riddance to bad rubbish. Since there 
was no machine outside to receive the 
boat, it turned end for end, spun a 
few meters from the Mercury Girl, 
and drifted along in much the same 
orbit, still trying to rotate on three 
simultaneous axes. 

Herr Syrup gulped. The transition 
to weightlessness was an outrage, and 
the stars ramping around his field of 
view didn’t help matters. His stomach 
lurched. Sarmishkidu groaned, hung 
onto the pretzel box with all six ten- 
tacles, and covered his eyes with his 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 



ears. Claus screamed, turning end for 
end in midair, and tried without suc- 
cess to fly. Herr Syrup reached for a 
control lever but didn’t quite make it. 
Sarmishkidu uncovered one sick eye 
long enough to mumble: "Bloody 
blank blasted Coriolis force.’’ Herr 
Syrup clenched his teeth, caught a 
mouthful of mustache, grimaced, spat 
it out, and tried again. This time he 
laid hands on the switch and pulled. 

A cloud of beer gushed frostily 
from one of the transverse pipes. 
After several rather unfortunate at- 
tempts, Herr Syrup managed to stop 
the boat’s rotation. He looked around 
him. He hung in darkness, among 
blazing stars. Grendel was a huge gib- 
bous green moon to starboard. The 
Mercury Girl was a long rusty spindle 
to port. The asteroid sun, small and 
weak but perceived by the adaptable 
human' eye as quite bright enough, 
poured in through the spacesuit hel- 
met in the roof and bounced dazzing- 
ly off his bare scalp. 

He swallowed sternly, to remind 
his stomach who was boss, and began 
taking navigational sights. Sarmish- 
kidu rolled a red look "upward” at 
Claus, who clung miserably to the 
Martian’s head with eyes tightly shut. 

Herr Syrup completed his figuring. 
It would have been best to wait a 
while yet, to get the maximum benefit 
of orbital velocity toward New Win- 
chester; but McConnell was not going 
to wait. Anyhow, this was such a 
slow orbit that it didn’t make much 
difference. Most likely the factor 
would be quite lost among the fan- 
tastically uncertain quantities of the 



boat itself. One would have to take 
what the good Lord sent. He gripped 
the control levers. 

A low murmur filled the cabin as 
the rearmost beer barrel snorted its 
vapors into space. There was a faint 
backward tug of acceleration pressure, 
which mounted very gradually as 
mass decreased. The thrust was not 
centered with absolute precision, and, 
of course, the distribution of mass 
throughout the whole structure was 
hit-or-miss, so the boat began to pick 
up a spin again. Steering by the seat 
of his pants and a few primitive 
meters, Herr Syrup corrected that 
tendency with side jets. 

Blowing white beer fumes in all 
directions, the messenger boat moved 
slowly along a wobbling spiral toward 
New Winchester. 

"Oh, darling, dearest, beloved,” 
wept Emily, dabbing at Rory McCon- 
nell’s head, "forgive me!” 

"Oi love yez, said the Erseman, 
sitting up, "but unliss ye’ll stop 
poundin’ in me skull Oi’ll have to 
lock yez up for the duration.” 

"I promise ... I promise . . . oh, 
I couldn’t bear it! Sweetheart” — 
Emily clutched his arm as he rose — 
"can’t you let them go now? I mean, 
they’ve gotten clean away, you’ve 
lost, so why don’t we wait here and, 
well, I mean to say, really.” 

"Fwhat do ye mane to say?” 

Emily blushed and lowered her 
eyes. “If you don’t know,” she said 
in a prime voice, "I shall certainly 
not tell you.” 

McConnell blushed, too. 



A BICYCLE BUILT FOR BREW 



131 



Then, resolutely, he started toward 
the bridge. The girl hurried after 
him. He flung back: "Tell me fwhat 
it is they’re escapin’ in, an’ maybe 
Oi’ll be riddy to concede hon’rable 
defayt.” But having been informed, 
he only barked a laugh and said, 
"Well, an’ ’tis a gallant try, ’tis, but 
me with riggular spaceship at me 
beck can’t admit the end iv the game. 
In fact, me dear, Oi’m sorry to say 
they haven’t a Plutonian’s chance in 
hell.” 

By that time he was in the turret, 
sweeping the skies with its telescope. 
It took him a while to find the boat, 
already it was a mere speck in the 
gleaming dark. He scowled, chewed 
his lip, and muttered half to him- 
self: 

" 'Twill take toime to exthract the 
polarity reversor, an’ me not a thrain- 
ed injineer. By thin the craft will be 
indayd hard to locate. If Oi wint on 
down to Grendel to git help, ’twould 
take hours to raych the ear iv himself 
an’ assimble a crew, if Oi know me 
Erse lads. An’ hours is too long. So 
. . . Oi’ll have go afther our friends 
there alone. Acushla," Oi don’t think 
ye’ll betray their cause if ye fix me a 
sandwich or six an’ open me a botthle 
iv beer whilst Oi work.” 

McConnell did, in .fact, require 
almost an hour to get the geegee 
repulsors to repulsing again. With 
the compensator still on the fritz, 
that put the ship's interior back in 
free fall state. He floated, dashing 
the sweat from his brow, and smiled 
at Emily. "Go sthrap yourself in, me 
rose iv Grendel, for Oi may well 

132 



have to make some sharp maneuvers 
an’ Oi wouldn’t be bruisin’ iv that 
fair skin — Damn! Git away!” That 
was addressed to the sweat he had 
just dashed from his brow. Swatting 
blindly at the fog of tiny globules, 
he pushed one leg against a wall and 
arrowed out the door. 

Up in the turret again, harnessed 
in his seat before the pilot console, 
he tickled its controls and heard the 
engines purr. "Are ye ready, darlin’ ?” 
he called into the intercom. 

"Not yet, sweetheart,” Emily’s 
voice floated back. "One moment, 
please.” 

"A momint only,” warned McCon- 
nell, squinting into the telescope. He 
could not have found the fleeing boat 
at all were it not for the temporary 
condensation of beer vapor into a 
cloud as expansion chilled it. And 
all he saw was a tiny, ghostly nebula 
on the very edge of vision. To be 
sure, knowing approximately what 
path the fugitives must follow gave 
him a track; he could doubtless al- 
ways come within a hundred kilo- 
meters of them that way; but — - 

"Are ye riddy, me sugar?” 

"Not yet, love. I’ll be with you in 
a jiffy.” 

McConnell drummed impatient 
fingers on the console. The Mercury 
Girl swung gently around Grendel. 
His head still throbbed. 

"Da-a-a-arlin’ ! Toime’s a-wastin’ ! 
We’ll be late!” 

"Oh, give me just a sec. Really, 
dearest, you might remember when 
we’re married and have to go out 
some place a girl wants to look her 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 



best, and that takes time, I mean 
dresses and cosmetics and so on aren’t 
classical, but I guess if I can give up 
my principles for you so you can be 
proud of me and if I can eat the 
things you like even if they aren’t 
natural, well, then you can wait a 
little while for me to make myself 
presentable and — ” 

"A man has two choices in this 
universe,” said McConnell grimly 
to himself, ''he can remain celibate 
or he can resign himself to spendin’ 
ten percint iv his life waitin’ for 
women.” 

He glared at the chronometer. 
"We’re late alriddy!” he snapped. 
"Oi’ll have to run off a diff’rint ap- 
proach curve to our orbit an’ — ” 
"Well, you can be doing it, can’t 
you? I mean, instead of just sitting 
there grumbling at me, why don’t 
you do something constructive like 
punching that old computer or what- 
ever it is?” 

McConnell stiffened. "Emily,” he 
said through thinned lips, "are ye 
by inny chance stallin’ me?” 

"Why, Rory, how could you? 
Merely because a girl has to — ” 

He calculated the required locus 
and said, "ye’ve got jist sixty seconds 
to prepare for acceleration.” 

"But Rory!” 

"Fifty seconds.” 

"But I mean to say, actually — ” 
"Forty seconds.” 

"Oh, right-o, then. And I’m not 
angry with you, love, really I’m not. 
I mean, I want you to know a girl 
admires a man like you who actually 
is a man. Why, what would I do with 



one of those awful 'Yes, dear’ types, 
they’re positively Roman! Imperial 
Roman, I mean. The Republican Ro- 
mans were at least virile, though of 
course they were barbarians and 
rather hairy. But what I meant to say, 
Rory, is that one reason I love you 
so much — ” 

After about five minutes of this, 
Major McConnell realized what was 
going on. With an inarticulate snarl 
he stabbed the computer, corrected his 
curve for time lost, punched it into 
the autopilot, and slapped down the 
main drive switch. 

First the ship turned, seeking her 
direction, and then a Terrestrial 
gravity of acceleration pushed him 
back into the chair. No reason to ap- 
ply more : he felt sure that leprechaun 
job he was chasing could scarcely 
pick up one meter per second squared, 
and matching velocities would be a 
tricky enough business for one man 
alone. He saw Grendel swing past 
the starboad viewport and drop be- 
hind. He applied a repulsor field for- 
ward to kill some of his present 
speed, simultaneously giving the ship 
an impulse toward ten-thirty o’clock, 
twenty-three degrees "high.” In a 
smooth arc, the Mercury Girl picked 
up the trail of Herr Syrup and began 
to close the gap. 

"Ah, now we’ll end this tale,” 
murmured Rory McConnell, "an’ 
faith, ye’ve been a worthy foeman 
an ’tis not Oi that will stint ye whin 
we mate ag’in in some friendly pub 
afther the glorious ridimption iv 
Gaelic La — Oops!” 



A BICYCLE BUILT FOR BREW 



133 



For a horrible moment, he thought 
that some practical joker had pulled 
the seat out from under him. He fell 
toward the floor, tensing his muscles 
for the crash . . . and fell, and fell, 
and after a few seconds realized he 
was in free fall. 

"Fwhat the jumpin' blue hell?” he 
roared and glared at the control 



found the intercom switch and jig- 
gled it. Only a mechanical clicking 
answered; that circuit was also dead. 

Groping and flailing his way aft, 
he needed black minutes to reach the 
engine room. It was like a cave. He 
entered, blind, drifting free, fanning 
the air with one invisible hand to 
keep from smothering in his own un- 




board meters, just as the lights went 
out. 

A thousand stars leered through 
the viewport. McConnell clawed 
blindly at his harness. He heard the 
ventilator fans sigh to a halt. The 
stillness became frightful. ''Emily!” 
he shouted, ''Emily, where are ye?” 
There was no reply. Somehow he 

134 



ventilated exhalations, his heartbeat 
thick and horrible in his ears. There 
should be a flashlight clipped some- 
where near the door . . . but where 
. . . He groaned: "Are we fallen into 
the diwil’s fingers?” 

A small sound came from some- 
where in the gloom. "Fwhat’s that?” 
he bawled. "Who’s there? Where are 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 



ye? Speak up before" — and he went 
on with a richness of description to 
be expected when Gaelic blood has 
had a checkered career. 

''Rory!" said an offended feminine 
voice out>> of the abyss. "If you are 
going to use that kind of language 
before me, you can just wipe your 
mouth out and not come until you 



you’d just despise me. It wouldn’t be 
British.” 

" Fwhat have ye done?” 

After a long pause, Emily said in 
a small voice: "I don’t know." 

“How’s that?" snapped McCon- 
nell. 

"I just went over to that control 
panel or whatever it is and started 




are prepared to say it in Greek like 
a gentleman! I mean, really!” 

"Are ye here? Darlin’, are ye here? 
Oi thought — " 

"Well,” said the girl, "I know I 
promised not to hit you any more, 
and I wouldn’t, not for all the world, 
but I still have to do what I can, 
don’t I, dear? I mean, if I gave up 



pulling switches. I mean to say, you 
don’t expect me to know what all 
those things are for, do you? Because 
I don’t. However,” said Emily bright- 
ly, "I can parse Greek verbs.” 

"Oh . . . no!" groaned McConnell. 
He began fumbling his way toward 
the invisible board. Where was it, 
anyhow — ? 



A BICYCLE BUILT FOR BREW 



135 




"I can cook, too,” said Emily. 
"And sew. And I’m awfully fond of 
children.” 

Herr Syrup noted on his crude 
meters that the first-stage beer barrel 
was now exhausted. He pulled the 
switch that dropped it and pushed 
himself up into the spacesuit to make 
sure that that had actually been done. 
Peering through the helmet globe, he 
saw that one relay had stuck and the 
keg still clung. He popped back in- 
side and told Sarmishkidu to hand 
him some sections of iron pipe 
through the stovepipe valve; this 
emergency was not unanticipated. 
Clumsy in gauntlets, his fingers screw- 
ed the pieces together to make a prod 
which could reach far aft and crack 
the empty cask loose. 

It occurred to him how much 
simpler it would have been to keep 
his tools in a box fastened to the out- 
er hull. But of course such things only 
come to mind when a model is being 
tested. 

He stared aft. The Mercury Girl 
was visible to the unaided eye, though 
dwindling perceptibly. She still float- 
ed inert, but he could not expect that 
condition to prevail for long. Well, 
a man can but try. Herr Syrup wrig- 
gled out of the armor torso and back 
into the cabin. Claus was practising 
free-fall flight technique and nipping 
stray droplets of beer out of the air; 
sometimes he collided with a drifting 
empty bottle, but he seemed to en- 
joy himself. 

Resuming acceleration,” said Herr 
Syrup. ' Give me a pretzel.” 

136 



Suds gushed from the second bar- 
rel. The boat wobbled crazily. Of 
course the loss of the first one had 
changed its spin characteristics. Herr 
Syrup compensated and plowed dog- 
gedly on. The second cask emptied 
and was discharged without trouble. 
He cut in the third one. 

Presently Sarmishkidu crawled 
"up” into the spacesuit. A whistle es- 
caped him. 

‘'Vat?” asked Herr Syrup. 

"Dere . . . behind us . . . your 
spaceship — und it iss coming ver- 
dammten fast!” 

Having strapped his fiancee care- 
fully into the acceleration chair beside 
his own, Rory McConnell resumed 
pursuit. He had lost a couple of hours 
by now, between one thing and an- 
other. And while she drifted free, 
the Girl had, of course, orbited well 
off the correct track. He had to get 
back on it and than start casting 
about. For a half hour of strained 
silence, he maneuvered. 

"There!” he said at last. 

"Where?” asked Emily. 

"In the ’scope,” said McConnell. 
His ill-humor let up and he squeezed 
her hand. "Hang on, here we go. 
Oi-11 have thim back aboard in ten 
minutes.” 

The hazy cloud waxed sc- fast that 
he revised his estimate upward. He 
had too much velocity; it would be 
necessary to overshoot, brake, and 
come back — 

The crash! clang-ng-ng! jarred his 
teeth together. For a moment, his 
heart paused and he knew naked fear. 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 



"What was that?” asked Emily. 

He hated to frighten her, but he 
forced out of suddenly stiff and sandy 
lips: "A meteor, Oi’m sure. A.n’ 
judgin’ from the sound iv it, ’twas big 
an’ fast enough to stave in a whole 
compartmint.” You could not exactly 
roll your eyes heavenward in free 
space, but he tried manfully. "Holy 
St. Patrick, is this inny way to treat 
your loyal son?” 

He shot past the wallowing beer 
boat at kilometers per second, falling 
free while he ripped off his harness. 
"The instalments aren’t showin’ dam- 
age, but beloike the crucial wan is 
been knocked out,” he muttered. "An’ 
us with no injin crew an’ no deck- 
hands. Oi’ll have to go out there me- 
self to check. At least this section is 
unharmed.” He nodded at the hand- 
kerchief he had thrown into the air; 
when the ventilators were briefly 
turned off, it simply hung, borne on 
no current of leakage. "If we begin 
to lose air elsewhere, swateheart, 
there’ll be automatic ports to seal yez 
off, so ye’re all roight for the next 
few hours.” 

"But what about you?” she cried, 
white-faced now that she understood. 
"What about you?” 

"Oi’ll be in a spacesuit.” He lean- 
ed over and kissed her. “ 'Tis not the 
.danger that’s so great as the delay. 
For somethin’ Oi’ll have to do, jist so 
acceleration strain don’t pull the dam- 
aged hull apart. Oi’ll be back whin Oi 
can, darlin’.” 

And yet, as he went aft, there was 
no sealing bulwark in his way, no- 
where a wind whistling toward the 

A BICYCLE BUILT FOR BREW 



dread emptiness outside. Puzzled and 
more than a little daunted, Rory Mc- 
Connell completed his interior in- 
spection in the engine room, broke 
out his own outsize space armor from 
his pack, and donned it: a slow, awk- 
ward task for one man alone. He 
floated to the nearest air lock and let 
himself out. 

It was eerie on the hull, where 
only his clinging bootsoles held him 
fast among streaming cold constella- 
tions. The harshness of undiffused 
sunlight and the absolute blackness of 
shadow made it hard to recognize 
anything for what it was. He saw a 
goblin and crossed himself violently 
before realizing it was only a lifeboat 
tank; and he was an experienced 
spaceman. 

An hour’s search revealed no leak. 
There was a dent in the bow which 
might or might not be freshly made, 
nothing else. And yet that meteor 
had struck with such a doomsday 
clang that he had thought the hull 
might be torn in two . . . Well, evi- 
dently St. Patrick had been on the 
job. McConnell returned inside, dis- 
encumbered himself, went forward, 
reassured Emily, and began to kill 
his unwanted velocity. 

Almost two hours had passed be- 
fore he was back in the vicinity of 
the accident, and then he could not 
locate the fugitive boat. By now it 
would have ceased blasting; darkly 
painted, it would be close to invisible 
in this black sky. He would have to 
set up a search pattern and — He 
groaned. 

Something drifted across his tele- 

137 



scopic field of view. What the deuce? 
He nudged the spaceship closer, and 
gasped. 

"Son of a — ” Hastily, he switched 
to Gaelic. 

"What is it, light of both my 
eyes?” asked Emily. 

McConnell beat his head against 
the console. "A couple iv hoops an’ 
some bhroken staves,” he whimper- 
ed. "Oh, no, no, no!” 

"But what of it? I mean, after all, 
when you consider how Mr. Syrup 
put that boat together, well, actu- 
ally.” 

"That’s jist it!” howled McCon- 
nell. "That’s what’s cost me near 
heart failure, plus two priceless hours 
or more an’ — That was our meteor! 
An impty beer barrel! Oh, the ig- 
nominy iv it!” 

Herr Syrup stopped the exhaust of 
his fourth-stage keg and leaned back 
into weightlessness with a sigh. "Ve 
better not accelerate any more,” he 
said. "Not yust now. Ve vill need a 
little reserve to maneuver later on.” 

"Vot later on?” asked Herr von 
Himmelschmidt sourly. "I don’t know 
vy der ship shot on past us, but soon 
it comes back und den ve iss maneu- 
vered into chail.” 

"Veil, meanvhile shall ve pass de 
time ? Herr Syrup took a greasy pack 
of cards from his jacket and riffled 
them suggestively. 

Stop riffling them suggestively!” 
squealed Sarmishkidu. "This is no 
time for idle amusements.” 

_ Vat else is it a time for?” 

Well . . . hm-m-m ... no, not 



that — Perhaps . . . no — Shilling 
ante?” 

At the end of some four hours, 
when he was ahead by several pounds 
sterling in I.O.U.’s and Sarmishkidu 
was whistling like an indignant bag- 
pipe, Herr Syrup noticed how dim 
the light was getting. The gauge 
showed him that the outside batter- 
ies were rather run down also. Every- 
thing would have to be charged up 
again. He explained the situation. 
"Do you vant first turn on de bicycle 
or shall I?” he asked. 

"Who, me?” Sarmishkidu wagged' 
a languid ear. "Whatever gave you 
the idea that evolution has prepared 
my race for bicycle riding?” 

"Veil ... I mean . . . dat is — ” 

"You are letting your Danishness 
mn away with you.” 

"Satan i helvede!” muttered Herr 
Syrup. He floated himself into the 
saddle, put feet to pedals, and began 
working. 

"And de vorst of it is,” he grum- 
bled, "who is ever going to believe 
I crossed from Grendel to New Vin- 
shester on a bicycle ?” 

Slowly, majestically, and off-center, 
the boat picked up an opposite rota- 
tion. 

“There they be!” cried Rory Mc- 
Connell. 

"Oh, dear,” said Emily Croft. 

The beer boat swelled rapidly in 
the forward viewport. The weariness 
of hour upon hour, searching, drop- 
ped from the Erseman. "Here we 
go!” he cried exultantly. “Tantivy, 
tantivy, tantivy!” 



138 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 



Then, lacking radar, he found that 
the human eye is a poor judge of free- 
space relationships. He buckled down 
to the awkward task of matching 
speeds. 

''Whoops!” he said. "Overshot!” 
Ten kilometers beyond, he came to a 
relative halt, twisted the cumbersome 
mass of the ship around, and ap- 
proached slowly. He saw a head pop 
up into the spacesuit helmet, glare at 
him, and pop back again. Foam 
spouted; the boat slipped out of his 
view. 

McConnell readjusted and came 
alongside, so that he looked directly 
from the turret at his prey. "He hasn’t 
the acceleration to iscape us,” he 
gloated. "Oi’ll folly each twist an’ 
turn he cares to make, from now 
intil — ” He stopped. 

"Until we get to New Winches- 
ter?” asked Emily in a demure tone. 

"But . . . Oi mane to say . . . 
but!” Major McConnell bugged tired 
eyes at the keg-and-box bobbing 
across the stars. 

"But Oi’ve overhauled thim!” he 
shouted, pounding the console. "Oi’ve 
a riggular ship with hundreds iv 
toimes their mass an’ . . . an’ . . . 
they’ve got to come aboard! It isn’t 
fair!” 

"Since we have no wireless, how 
can you inform them of that?” pur- 
red the girl. She leaned over close 
and patted his cheek. Her gaze soft- 
ened. "There, there. I’m sorry. I do 
love you, and I don’t wan’t to tease 
you or anything, but honestly, don’t 
you think you’re becoming a bit of a 
bore on this subject? I mean, 



enough’s enough, don’t you know.” 

"Not if ye’re iv Erse blood, it 
isn’t.” McConnell set his jaw till it 
ached. "Oi’ll scoop ’em up, that’s 
fwhat Oi will !” 

There was a master control for the 
cargo machinery in the engine room, 
but none on the bridge. McConnell 
unstrapped himself, shoved grimly 
"down” to the hold section, pumped 
out the main hatch chamber and open- 
ed the lock. Now he had it gaping 
wide enough to swallow the boat 
whole, and — 

Weight came back. He crashed in- 
to the deck. "Emily!” he bellowed, 
picking himself up with a bloody 
nose. "Emily, git away from them 
conthrols !” 

- Three Terrestrial gravities of ac- 
celeration were a monstrous load on 
any man. He took minutes to regain 
the bridge, drag himself to the main 
console, and slap down the main 
drive switch. Meanwhile Emily, sag- 
ging in her chair and gasping for 
breath, managed a tolerant smile. 

When they again floated free, Mc- 
Connell bawled at her: "Oi love yez 
more than Oi do me own soul, an’ 
ye’re the most beautiful craythur the 
cosmos will ivver see, an Oi’ve half a 
moind to turn yez over me knee an’ 
paddle ye raw!” 

"Watch your language, Rory,” the 
vicar’s daughter reproyed. "Paddle 
me black and blue, if you please. I 
mean, I don’t like double entendres.” 

"Ah, be still, ye blitherin’ angel,” 
he snarled. He swept the sky with a 
bloodshot telescope. The boat was out 
of sight again. Of course. 



A BICYCLE BUILT FOR BREW 



139 



It took him half an hour to re- 
locate it, still orbiting stubbornly on 
toward New Winchester. And New 
Winchester had grown noticeably 
brighter. 

"Now we’ll see fwhat we’ll see,” 
grated Major McConnell. 

He accelerated till he was dead 
ahead of the boat, matched speeds 
and spun broadside to. As nearly as 
he could gauge it, the boat was aim- 
ed directly into his open cargo hatch. 

Herr Syrup applied a quick side 
jet, slipped "beneath” the larger hull, 
and continued on his way. 

" Aaaargh!” Tiny flecks of foam 
touched McConnell’s lips. He tried 
again. 

And again. 

And again. 

"It’s no use,” he choked at last. 
"He can sloide past me too aisy. The 
wan thing Oi could do would be to 
ram him an’ be done — Arragh, hell 
have him, he knows Oi’m not a mur- 
dherer.” 

"Really, dear,” said Emily, "it 
would all be so simple if you would 
just give up and admit he’s won.” 

"Small chance iv that!” McConnell 
brooded for long minutes. And slow- 
ly a luster returned to his eyes. "Yiss. 
Oi have it. The loadin’ crane. Oi’ll 
have to jury-rig a conthrol to the 
bridge, as well as a visio screen so 
Oi can see fwhat Oi’m doin’. But 
havin’ given meself that much, why, 
Oi 11 approach ag’in with tire crane 
grapple projectin’ from the hatch, 
raych out, an’ grab hold!” 

Rory, said Emily, "you’re being 

tiresome.” 

140 



"Oi’m bein’ Erse, by all the 
saints!” McConnell rubbed a bristly 
red jaw. " ’Tis hours ’twill take me, 
an’ him fleein’ the whoile. Could ye 
hold us alongside, me only wan?” 

"Me?” The girl opened wide blue 
eyes and protested innocently: "But 
darling, you told me after that last 
time to leave the controls alone, and 
I admit I don’t know a thing about 
it. I mean, it would be unlawful for 
me to try piloting, wouldn’t it, and 
positively dangerous. I mean to say, 
medeu pratlo.” 

"Ah, well, Oi moight have known 
how the good loyal heart iv yez would 
make ye a bloody nuisance. But either 
give me your word iv honor not to 
touch the pilot board ag’in, or Oi 
must break me own heart by tyin’ yez 
into that chair.” 

"Oh, I promise, dear. I’ll promise 
you anything within reason.” 

"An’ fwhatsoivver ye don’t happen 
to want is unreasonable. Yiss.” Rory 
McConnell sighed, kissed his lady 
love, and went off to work. The es- 
cape boat blasted feebly but steadily 
into a new orbit — not very different, 
but time and the pull of the remote 
sun on an inert ship would show 
their work later on. 

General Scourge - of - the - Sas- 
senach O’Toole lifted a gaunt face 
and glared somberly at the young 
guardsman who had finally won 
through to his office. "Well?” he 
clipped. 

"Beggin’ your pardon, sor, but — ” 

"Salute me, ye good-for-nothin’ 
scut!” growled O’Toole. "Fwhat kind 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 



iv an army is it we’ve got here, where 
a proivate soldier passin’ the captain 
in the sthreet slaps his back an’ says, 
'Paddy, ye auld pig, the top iv the 
momin’ to yez an’ if ye've a momint 
to spare, why, ’tis proud Oi’ll be to 
stand yez a mug of dark in yon tav- 
ern’ — eh?’’ 

"Well, sor,” said the guardsman, 
his Celtic love of disputation coming 
to the fore, "Oi’d say ’twas a foine 
well-run army iv outsthandingly 
hoigh morale. Though truth to spake, 
the captain Oi’ve been saddled with 
is a pickle-faced son iv a landlord 
who would not lift his hat to St. 
Bridget herself, did the dear holy 
colleen come walkin’ in his door.” 

"Morale, ye say?” shouted O’Toole, 
springing from his chair. "Morale cuts 
both ways, ye idjit! How much-mor- 
ale de ye think the officer’s corps has 
got, or Oi meself, whin me own men 
name me Auld S.O.T.S. to me face, 
not ayven botherin’ to sound the 
initials sep’rit, an’ me havin’ not 
touched a drop in all me loife? Oi’ll 
have some respect hereabouts, begor- 
ra, or know the rayson why!” 

"If ye want to know the rayson, 
Oi can give it to ye, Jiniral, sor, ye 
auld maid in britches!” cried the 
guardsman. His fist smote the desk. 
' ’Tis jist the sour face iv yez, that’s 
the rayson, an’ if ye drink no drop 
’tis because wan look at yez would 
curdle the potheen in the jug! Now 
if ye want some consthructive suggis- 
tions for improvin’ the managemint 
iv this army — ” 

They passed an enjoyable half 
hour. At last, having grown hoarse, 

A BICYCLE BUILT FOR BREW 



the guardsman bade the general a 
friendly good day and departed. 

Five minutes later there was a 
scuffle in the anteroom. A sentry’s 
voice yelped, "Ye can’t go in there to 
himself without an appointmint !” 
and the guardsman answered, "An 
appointmint Oi’ve had, since the hour 
before dawn whin Oi first came an’ 
thried to get by the bureaucratic lot iv 
yez!” and the scuffle got noisier and 
at last the office door went off its 
hinges as the guardsman tossed the 
sentry through it. 

"Beggin’ your pardon, sor,” he 
panted, dabbing at a bmised cheek 
and judiciously holding the sentry 
down with one booted foot, "but Oi 
jist remembered why Oi had to see 
yez.” 

"Ye’ll go to the bhrig for this, ye 
riotous scum!” roared O’Toole. 
"Corp-ril iv the guard! Arrest this 
man !” 

"That attitude is precisely fwhat Oi 
was criticoizin’ earlier,” pointed out 
the soldier. " ’Tis officers loike yez 
fwhat takes all the fun out iv war. 
Why, ye wall-eyed auld Fomorian, if 
ye’d been in charge iv the Cattle Raid 
iv Cooley, the Brown Bull would 
still be cheWin’ cud in his meaddy! 
Now ye listen to me — ” 

As four freshly arrived sentries 
dragged him off, he shouted back: 
"All roight, thin! If -ye’re goin’ to be 
that way about it, all roight an’ be 
damned to yez ! Oi won’t tell ye my 
news ! Oi won’t spake a word if fwhat 
Oi saw through the telly scope jist be- 
fore sunrise — or failed to see — ye 
can sit there in bloithe ignorance iv 

141 



the Venusian ship havin' vanished 
from her orbit, till she calls down the 
Anglian Navy upon yez! See if Oi 
care!” 

For a long, long moment, General 
Scourge - of - the - Sassenach O’Toole 
gaped out at Grendel’s blue sky. 

Spent, shaking with lack of sleep 
and sheer muscular weariness, Rory 
McConnell weaved through free fall 
toward the bridge. As he passed the 
galley, Emily stoppe'd him. Having 
had a night watch of rest, she looked 
almost irritatingly calm and beautiful. 
"There, there, love,” she said. "Is it 
all over with ? Come, I've fixed a nice 
cup of tea.” 

"Don’t want inny tea,” he growled. 

"Oh, but darling, you must! Why, 
you’ll waste away. I swear you’re al- 
ready just skin and bones ... oh, and 
your poor dear hands, the knuckles 
are all rubbed raw — Come on, there’s 
a sweetheart, sit down and have a cup 
of tea. I mean, actually you’ll have to 
float, and drink it out of one of those 
silly suction bottles, but the principle 
is the same. That old boat will 
keep.” 

"Not much longer,” said McCon- 
nell. “By now, she’s far closer to the 
king than she is to Grendel.” 

"But you can wait ten minutes, 
can’t you?” Emily pouted. "You’re 
not only neglecting your health, but 
me. You’ve hardly remembered I 
exist. All those hours, the only thing 
I heard on the intercom was swearing. 
I mean, I imagine from the tone it 
was swearing, though of course I 
don’t speak Gaelic. You will have to 

142 



teach me after we’re married. And 
I’ll teach you Greek. I understand 
there is a certain affinity between the 
languages.” She rubbed her cheek 
against his bare chest. "Just as there 
is between you and me — Oh, dear!” 
She retired to try getting some of the 
engine grease off her face. 

In the end, Rory. McConnell did 
allow himself to be prevailed upon.. 
For ten minutes only — Half an hour 
later, much refreshed, he mounted to 
the bridge and resumed acceleration. 

Grendel was little more than a tar- 
nished farthing among the stars. New 
Winchester had swelled until it was 
a great green and gold moon. There 
would be warships in orbit around 
it, patrolling — McConnell dismissed 
the thought and gave himself to his 
search. 

After all this time, it was not easy. 
Space is big and even the largest beer 
keg is comparatively small. Since 
Herr Symp had shifted the plane of 
his boat’s orbit by a trifle — an hour’s 
questing confirmed that this must be 
the case — the volume in which he 
might be was fantastically huge. 
Furthermore, drifting free, his vessel 
painted black, he would be hard to 
spot, even when you were almost on 
top of him. 

Another hour passed. 

"Poor darling,” said Emily, reach- 
ing from her chair to rumple the 
major’s red locks. "You’ve tried so 
hard.” 

New Winchester -continued to 
grow. Its towns were visible now, as 
blurred specks on a subtle tapestry of 
wood and field and ripening grain; 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 



the Royal Highroad was a thin streak 
across a cloud-softened dayface. 

"He’ll have to reveal himself 
soon,’’ muttered McConnell from his 
telescope. "That beer blast is so 
weak — 

"Dear me, I understood Mr. Sar- 
mishkidu’s beer was rather strong,” 
said Emily. 

McConnell chuckled. "Ah, they 
should have used Irish whisky in their 
jet. But what Oi mint, me beloved, 
was that in so cranky a boat, they 
could not hope to hit their target on 
the nose, so they must make course 



corrections as they approach it. And 
with so low an exhaust velocity, 
they’ll need a long time iv blasthin’ 
to — Hoy! Oi’ve got him!” 

The misty trail expanded in the 
viewfield, far and far away. McCon- 
nell's hands danced on the control 
board. The spaceship turned about 
and leaped ahead. The crane, pro- 
jecting out of the cargo hatch, flexed 
its talons hungrily. 

Fire burst! 

After a time of strangling on his 
own breath, McConnell saw- the 
brightness break into rags before his 




A. BICYCLE BUILT FOB BREW 



143 



dazzled eyes. He stared into night 
and constellations. "Fwhat the div- 
vil?” he gasped. "Is there a Sassenach 
ship nearby? Has the auld squarehead 
a gun? That was a shot across our 
bows !” 

He zipped past the boat at a few 
kilometers' distance while frantically 
scouring the sky. A massive shape 
crossed his telescopic field. It grew 
before his eyes as he. stared — it 
couldn’t be. "Our own ship!’’ choked 
McConnell. "Our own Erse ship.’’ 

The converted freighter did not 
shoot again, for fear of attracting 
Anglian attention. It edged nearer, 
awkwardly seeking to match velocities 
and close in on the Mercury Girl. 
"Git away!” shouted McConnell. 
"Git out iv the way, ye idjits! ’Tis 
not meself ye want, ’tis auld Syrup 
. . . over there — Git out iv me way!” 
He avoided imminent collision by a 
wild backward spurt. 

The realization broke on him. 
"But how do they know ’tis me on 
beard here?” he asked aloud. 

"Telepathy?” suggested the girl, 
fluttering her lashes at hirn. 

"They don’t know. They can’t 
even have noticed the keg boat, Oi’ll 
swear. So ’tis us they wish to board 
an’ — Git out iv the way!” 

The Erse ship rushed in, sharklike. 
Again McConnell had to accelerate 
backward to avoid being stove. New 
Winchester dwindled in his view- 
ports. 

He slapped the console with a 
furious hand. "An’ me lackin’ a radjo 
to tell ’em the truth,” he groaned. 
Oi’ll jist have to orbit free, an’ let 

144 



’em lay alongside an’ board, an' ex- 
plain the situation.” His teeth grated 
together. "All of which, if Oi know 
inny wan thing about the Force’s 
hoigh command, will cost us aisy 
anither hour.” 

Emily smiled. The Mercury Girl 
continued to recede from the goal. 

"I t’ink ve is in good broadcast 
range now,” said Herr Syrup. 

His boat was again inert, having 
exhausted nearly all its final cask. 
New Winchester waxed, already 
spreading across several degrees of 
arc. If only some circling Navy ship 
would happen to see the vessel; but 
no, the odds were all against that — 
Ah, well. Weary, bleary, but justi- 
fiably triumphant, Herr Syrup tapped 
the oscillator key. 

Nothing happened. 

"Vere’s de spark?” he complained. 

"I don’t know,” said Sarmishkidu. 
"I thought you would.” 

"Bloody hell!” screamed Claus. 

Herr Syrup snarled inarticulately 
and tapped some more. There was 
still no result. "It vas O.K. ven I 
tested back at de ship,” he pleaded. 
"Of course, I did not dare test mush 
or de Ersers might overhear, but it 
did vork. Vat’s gone crazy since?” 

"I would suggest that since most 
of the transmission apparatus is out- 
side by the batteries, something has 
worked loose,” answered Sarmish- 
kidu. "We could easily have jarred a 
wire off its terminal or some such 
thing.” 

Herr Syrup swore and stuffed him- 
self up into the spacesuit and tried to 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 



see what was wrong. But the oscillator 
parts were not accessible, or even 
visible, from this position: another 
point overlooked in the haste of con- 
structing the boat. So he would have 
to put on the complete suit and crawl 
back to attempt repairs; and that 
would expose the interior of the cab- 
in, including poor old Claus, to raw 
space — "Oh, Yudas,” he said. 

There was no possibility of landing 
on New Winchester; there never had 
been, in fact. Now the barrel didn’t 
even hold enough reaction mass to 
establish an orbit. The boat would 
drift by, the oxygen would be ex- 
hausted, unless first the enemy picked 
him up. Staring aft, Herr Syrup gulp- 
ed. The enemy was about to do 
so. 

He had grinned when he saw the 
two Erse-controlled ships nudge each 
other out of sight. But now one of 
them, yes, the Girl herself, with a 
grapnel out at the side, came back 
into view. 

His heart sagged. Well, he had 
striven. He might as well give up. 
Life in a yeast factory was at least life. 

No, by heaven ! 

Herr Syrup struggled back into the 
box. "Qvick!” he yelled. "Give me 
de popcorn!’’ 

"What?” gaped Sarmishkidu. 

"Hand me up de carton vit’ pop- 
corn t’ rough the valve, an’ den give 
me about a minute of full accelera- 
tion forvard.” 

Sarmishkidu shrugged with all his 
tentacles, but obeyed. A quick pair of 
blasts faced the boat away from the 
approaching ship. Herr Syrup’s space - 

A. BICYCLE BUILT FOR BREW 



gauntleted hand closed on the small 
box as it was shoved up through the 
stovepipe diaphragm, and he hurled 
it from him as his vessel leaped 
ahead. 

The popcorn departed with a speed 
which, relative to the Girl, was not 
inconsiderable. Exposed to vacuum, 
it exploded from its pasteboard con- 
tainer as it gained full, puffy dimen- 
sions. 

Now one of the oldest space war 
tactics is to drop a mess of hard ob- 
jects, such as ball bearings, in the 
path of a pursuing enemy. And then 
there are natural meteors. In either 
case, the speeds involved are often 
such as to wreak fearful damage on 
the craft. Rory McConnell saw a sud- 
den ghastly vision of white spheroids 
hurtling toward him. Instinctively, he 
stopped forward acceleration and 
crammed on full thrust sideways. 

Almost, he dodged the swarm. A 
few pieces did strike the viewport. 
But they did not punch through, they 
did not even crater the tough plastic. 
They spattered. It took him several 
disgusted minutes to realize what they 
had been. By that time, the Erse ship 
had come into view with the plain 
intention of stopping him, laying 
alongside, and finding out what the 
devil was wrong now. When every- 
thing had been straightened out, a 
good half hour had passed. 

"Dere is for damn sure no time 
to fix de oscillator,” said Herr Syrup. 
"Ve must do vat ve can.” 

Sarmishkidu worked busily, paint- 
ing the large pretzel box with air- 

145 



sealing gunk. "I trust the bird will 
survive,” he said, 

"I t’ink so,” said Herr Syrup. "I 
t’row him and de apparatus avay as 
hard as I can. Ve vill pass qvite close 
to de fringes of de asteroid’s atmos- 
phere. He has not many minutes to 
fall, and de oxygen keeps him break- 
ing all dat vile. Ven de whole t’ing 
hits de air envelope, dere vill be 
enough impact to tear open de pretzel 
box and Claus can fly out.” 

The boat rumbled softly, blasting 
as straight toward New Winchester 
as its crew had been able to aim. It 
gave a feeble but most useful weight 
to objects within. Sarmishkidu finish- 
ed painting the box and attached a 
tube connecting it with one of the 
oxygen flasks. 

"Now den, Claus,” said Herr 
Syrup, "I have tied a written message' 
to your leg, but if I know you, you 
vill rip it off and eat it as soon as 
you are free. However, if I also know 
you, you vill fly straight for de near- 
est pub and try to bum beer. So, re- 
peat after me: 'Help! Help! Invad- 
ers on Grendel.’ Dat’s all. 'Help ! 
Help ! Invaders on Grendel.’ ” 

"McConnell is a skunk,” said 
Claus. 

"No, no! 'Help! Halp! Invaders 
on Grendel.’ ” 

"McConnell sheats at cards,” said 
Claus. "McConnell is a ''teetotaler. 
McConnell is a barnacle on de nose 
of sociely. McConnell — ” 

"No, no, no!” 

"No, no, no!” echoed Claus agree- 
ably. 

Listen,” said Herr Syrup after a 
146 



deep breath. "Listen, Claus. Please 
say it. Yust say, 'Help ! Help ! Invad- 
ers on Grendel.’ ” 

"Nevermore,” said Claus. 

"We had best proceed,” said Sar- 
mishkidu. 

He stuffed the indignant crow into- 
the box and sealed it shut while Herr 
Syrup got back in the spacesuit: in- 
cluding, this time, its pants. And 
then, having aerated himself enough 
to stand vacuum for a while, Sar- 
mishkidu unfastened the armor from 
the hatch cover. Herr Syrup popped 
inboard. Air rushed out. Herr Syrup 
pushed the oxygen cylinder, with 
Claus’ box, through the.hole. 

New Winchester was so close it 
filled nearly half the sky. Herr Syrup 
made out towns and farms and or- 
chards, through fleecy clouds. He 
sighed wistfully, shoved the tank from 
him as hard as he could, and watched 
it dwindle. A moment afterward, the 
asteroid itself began to recede; he 
had passed peri-New Winchester and 
was outward bound on a long cold 
orbit. 

"So,” said Herr Syrup, "let De 
Erse come pick us up.” He realized 
he was talking to himself: no radio, 
and anyhow Sarmishkidu had curled 
into a ball. There was no point in 
resealing the cabin— the other oxygen 
bottle was long exhausted. 

"I never t’ ought de future of two 
nations could depend on vun old 
crow,” sighed Herr Syrup. 

"Tsk-tsk-tsk,” said Rory McCon- 
nell. "An’ your radjo didn’t work 
afther all?” 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 



"No,” wheezed Herr Syrup. He 
was still a little blue around the nose. 
It had been a grim wait of many 
hours, crouched in the spinning 
wreckage of his boat; his suit’s air 
supply had been low indeed when 
the Mercury Girl finally came to him. 

"An’ ye say your puir auld bird 
was lost as well?” 

"Blown out ven de gasket blew 
out dat I told you of.” Herr Syrup 
accepted a cigar and leaned his weary 
frame gratefully back against the 
gymbal-swung acceleration bench in 
the saloon. There was still no func- 
tioning compensator and the Mercury 
Girl, with an Erse crew aboard, was 
pacing back to Grendel at a quarter 
gee. 

"Thin all your throuble was for 
nothin’?” McConnell did not gloat; 
if anything, he was too sympathetic. 

"I guess so,” Herr Syrup answered 
rather bleakly, thinking of Claus. No 
doubt the crow would look at once 
for human society; but what was he 
likely to convey except a string of 
oaths? Too late, the engineer saw 
that he should have put some profani- 
ty into his message. 

"Well, ye were a brave foe, an’ 
’tis daily Oi’ll come by Grendel gaol 
to cheer yez,” said McConnell, clap- 
ping his shoulder. "For Oi fear the 
Jiniral will insist on lockin’ yez up 
for the duration. He was more than 
a little annoyed, I can tell yez; he was 
spittin’ rivets. He wanted for to leave 
yez drift off to your fate, an’ we had 
quoite an argymint about it, where- 
fore Oi am now jist anither proivate 
soldier in the ranks.” McConnell rub- 



bed his large knuckles reminiscently. 
"Howivver, Oi won me point. Him- 
self wint back hours ago in t’ither 
ship, but he let me stay wi' this wan 
and pick yez up. But Oi dared not 
go close to the Anglian capital, but 
must wait until we had orbited so far 
away that no chance Navy ship would 
see us an’ git curious. An’ so long a 
delay meant ye were hard to foind. 
We were almost too late, eh, fwhat?” 

"Ja,” shuddered Herr Syrup. He 
tilted the proffered bottle of Irish to 
his lips. 

"But all’s well that inds well, even 
though ’twas said by an Englishman,” 
chuckled McConnell. He squeezed 
Emily’s hand. She smiled mistily 
back at him. "For Oi’ll regain me 
auld rank as soon as the swellin’ in 
the Jiniral’s eye has gone down so he 
can see how much Oi’m nayded. An’ 
thin ’twill be toime to effect the glori- 
ous ridimption iv Laoighise, an’ thin, 
Emily, you an Oi will be wed, an’ 
thin — Well!” He coughed, she 
blushed. 

"Ja,” snorted Sarmishkidu. "Goot 
ending, huh ? Mit mine pizznizz 
mined, und me in chail, und maybe 
a var started, und dot dummkopf of a 
Shalmuannusar claiming he proofed 
der sub-unitary connectifity t’eorem 
before I did, as if publishing first had 
anyt’ings to do mit priorities — Ha!” 

"Oh, dear,” said Emily compas- 
sionately. 

"Oh, darlin’,” said McConnell. 

"Oh, sweetheart,” cooed Emily, 
losing interest in Sarmishkidu, 

"Oh, me little turtle dove,” whis- 
pered McConnell. 



A BICYCLE BUILT FOR BREW 



147 



Herr Syrup fought a strong desire 
to retch. 

A bell clanged. McConnell stood 
up. "That’s the signal,” he said. 
"We’ve come to Grendel an’ Oi’ll be 
wanted on the bridge. ’Twill be an 
unendin’ few minutes till Oi see yez 
ag’in, me only wan.” 

"Good-by, my beloved,” breathed 
the girl. Herr Syrup gritted his teeth. 

Her manner changed as soon as 
the Erseman had left. She leaned 
over toward the engineer and asked 
tensely: "Do you think we succeeded? 
I mean, do you?” 

"I doubt it,” he sighed, "In de 
end, only Claus vas left to carry de 
vord.” He explained what had hap- 
pened. "Even supposing he does re- 
peat vat he vas supposed to, I doubt 
many people vould believe a crow 
dat has not even been introduced.” 

"Well — ” Emily bit her lip. "We 
tried, didn’t we? But if a war does 
come . . . between Rory’s country 
and mine — No! I won’t think 
about it!” She rubbed small fists 
across her eyes. 

Uncompensated forces churned 
Herr Syrup on his seat. At last they 
quieted; the engine mumble died; a 
steady one gee informed him that the 
Mercury Girl was again berthed on 
Grendel. "I’m going, to Rory,” said 
Emily. Almost, she fled from a saloon, 

Herr Syrup puffed his cigar, wait- 
ing for the Erse to come take him to 
prison. The first thing he would do 
there, he thought dully, was sleep 
for about fifty hours — He grew aware 
that several minutes had passed. Sar- 

148 



mishkidu sat brooding in a spaghetti- 
like nest of tentacles. The ship had 
grown oddly quiet, no feet along the 
passageways or — Shrugging, Herr 
Syrup got up, strolled out of the sa- 
loon and down a corridor, entered 
the open main passenger air lock and 
looked upon the spacefield. 

The cigar dropped from his mouth. 
The Erse flag was down off the 
staff and the Anglian banner was 
back. A long, subdued line of green- 
clad men shuffled past a heap of their 
own weapons. Trucks were bringing 
more every minute. They trailed one 
by one into a military transport craft 
berthed nearby, accompanied by hoots 
and jeers — and an occasional tearful 
au revoir — from the Grendelian 
townspeople crowded against the port 
fence. A troop of redcoats with 
bayoneted rifles urging the prisoners 
along, and the gigantic guns of 
H.M.S. Inhospitable shadowed the 
entire scene. 

"Yudas priest!” said Herr Syrup. 
He stumbled down onto the 
ground. A brisk young officer sur- 
veyed him through a monocle, sketch- 
ed a salute, and extended an arm. 
"Mr. Syrup? I understood you were 
aboard. Your crow, sir.’’ 

"Hell and damnation!” said Claus, 
hopping from the Anglian wrist to 
the Danish shoulder. 

"Pers’nally,” said the young man, 
"I go in for falcons.” 

"You come!” whispered Herr Syr- 
up. “You come!” i 

"Just a short hop, don’t y’ know. 
We arrived hours back. No resistance, 
except . . . er — ” The officer blushed. 



ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 



"I say, don’t look now, but that young 
lady in the, ah, rather brief costume 
and, er, passionate embrace with the 
large chappie . . . d’ you know any- 
thing about ’em? Mean to say, she 
claims she’s the vicar’s daughter and 
he’s her fiance and she goes where 
he goes, and really, sir, I jolly well 
don’t know whether to evacuate her 
with the invaders or give him a per- 
mit to remain here or, or what, 
damme !” 

Herr Syrup stole a glance. "Do 
vatever seems easiest,” he said. "I 
don’t t’ink to dem it makes mush 
difference.” 

"No. I suppose not.” The officer 
sighed. 

"How did you find out vat vas 
happening here? Did de crow really 
give somevun my message?” 

"What message?” 

"Go sputz yourself!” rasped Claus. 

"No, not dat vun,” said Herr Syr- 
up quickly. 

"My dear sir,” said the officer, 
"when a half-mined oxygen bottle, 
with the name Mercury Girl still 
identifiable on it, lands in a barley 
field . . . and we’ve been wirelessed 
that that ship is under quarantine . . . 
and then when this black bird flies in 
a farmer’s window and steals a scone 
off his tea table and says, ah, un- 
complimentary things about one Ma- 
jor McConnell . . . well, really, my 
dear chap, the farmer will phone the 
police and the police will phone 
Newer Scotland Yard and the Yard 
will check with Naval Intelligence 
and, well, I mean to say it’s obvious, 
eh, what, what, what?” 

A BICYCLE BUILT FOR BREW 



"fa,” said Herr Syrup weakly. "I 
suppose so.” He hesitated. "Vat you 
ban going to do vit’ de Ersers? Dey 
vas pretty decent, considering. I 
vould hate to see dem serving yail 
sentences.” 

"Oh, don’t worry about that, sir. 
Mean to say, well, it’s a bally em- 
barrassing situation all around, eh? 
W e don’t want to admit that a band 
of half-cocked extremists, stole one of 
our shires right out from under our 
noses, so to speak, what? We can't 
suppress the fact, of course, but we 
aren't exactly anxious to advertise it 
all over the Solar System, y’ know. 
As for the Erse government, it 
doesn’t want trouble with us — Gaelic 
Socialists, y’ know, peaceful chappies 
— and certainly doesn’t want to give 
the opposition party a leg up; so they 
won’t support this crazy attempt in 
any way. At the same time, popular 
sentiment at home won’t let ’em pun- 
ish the attempt either. Eh? 

"Jolly ticklish situation. Delicate. 
All we can do is ship these fellows 
home with our compliments, where 
their own government will doubtless 
give ’em a talking to and let ’em go. 
And then, very much on the Q.T., 
I’m jolly well sure the Erse Republic 
will pay whatever damage claims 
there are. Not more than a few thou- 
sand pounds’ worth all told, I'd 
say. Your own ship ought to col- 
lect a goodly share of that, eh, 
what?” 

By this time Sarmishkidu von 
Himmelschmidt had reached the foot 
of the ladder. "I’ll haff you know 
I haff t’ousands of pounds in dam- 

149 



aches coming!” he whistled in out- 
rage. "Maybe millions! Vy, chust der 
loss of pizznizz during der occupa- 
tion, at a rate of easy five hundred 
pounds a day — let’s call it a t’ousand 
pounds a day to put it in round 
figures — dot adds up to — ” 

"Oh, come now, old chap, come 
now. Tut-tut!” The officer adjusted 
his monocle. "It isn’t all that bad. 
Really it isn’t, don’t y' know. After 
all, even if nothing is done officially, 
word will get around. People will 
come in jolly old floods to see the 
place where all this happened. I'll 
wager my own missus makes me 
vacation here this season. Cloak and 
dagger stuff, excitin’, all that sort of 
piffle, eh, what? Why, it’ll be the 



busiest tourist season in your history, 
by Jove.” 

"Hm-m-m.” Sarmishkidu stroked 
bis nose thoughtfully. A gleam waxed 
in one bulging eye. "Hm-m-m. Yes. 
The atmosphere of international in- 
trigue ... sinister spies . . . double 
agents . . . beautiful females luring 
away secret papers ... . yes, the first 
place on Grendel to furnish that kind 
of atmosphere will — Hm-m-m. I 
must make some alterations, I see. To 
hell with Gemutlicbkeit. I want my 
tavern to have an uncertain reputa- 
tion, yes, that’s it, uncertain.” He 
drew himself up and flourished a 
dramatic tentacle. "Chentlemen, you 
iss now looking upon der proprietor 
of der Alt Heisenberg Rathskeller!” 



THE END 



Statement of the Ownership, Man- 
agement, and Circulation required 
by the Act of Congress of August 
24, 1912, as amended by the Acts 
of March 3, 1933, and July 2, 
1946 (Title 39, United States 
Code, Section 233) of Astounding 
Science Fiction published monthly, 
at New York, N. Y., for October 
1, 1958. 

1. The names and addresses of the publisher, edi- 
tor, managing editor, and business managers are: 
Publishers, Street & Smith Publications, Inc., 575 
Madison Avenue, New York 22‘, N. Y.; editor, John 
W. Campbell, Jr., 575 Madison Avenue, New York 
22, N. Y.; managing editor, none; Business man- 
ager, none. 

2. The owners are: Street & Smith Publications, 
Inc., 575 Madison Avenue, New York 22, N. Y., a 



150 



corporation owned through stock holdings by Vir- 
ginia A. Cluett, Arthur P. Lawler and Arthur Z. 
Gray, Executors u/w Gerald H. Smith, 575 Madison 
Avenue, New York 22, N. Y., Ormond V. Gould, 
575 Madison Avenue, New York 22, N. Y. 

3. The known bondholders, mortgagees, and other 
security holders owning or holding 1 percent or more' 
of total amount of bonds, mortgages, or other se- 
curities are: None. 

4. Paragraphs 2 and 3 include, in cases where the 
stockholder or security holder appears upon the books 
of the company as trustee or in any other fiduciary 
relation, the name of the person or corporation for 
whom such trustee is acting; also the statements in 
the two paragraphs show the affiant's full knowledge 
and belief as to the circumstances and conditions 
under which stockholders and security holders who 
do not appear upon the books of the company as 
trustees, hold stock and securities in a capacity other 
than that of a bona fide owner. 

ARTHUR P LAWLER, Secretary of 
Street & Smith Publications, Inc. 

Sworn to and subscribed before me this 30th day 
of September, 1958. William A. Norris, Jr., Notary 
Public. No. 30-8158000, Nassau County. (My com- 
mission expires March 30, 1960.) 



ASTOUNaiNG SCIENCE FICTION 




THE REFERENCE LIBRARY 

BY P. SCHUYLER MILLER 



THE SHEEP 
AND THE GOATS 

RECENT letter from a 
member of the Research 
Section of Civilian 
Saucer Intelligence of 
New York complains 
that in my comments on saucer books, 
I have not discriminated between the 
serious researchers and the crackpots. 

THE REFERENCE LIBRARY 



I should be commenting, not on the 
writers and their books, but on the 
reports of sightings, this reader con- 
tends. 

The first criticism is probably true, 
and more may come of it, for I have 
offered to go over any group of books 
that this CSI-NY member accepts as 
serious and reappraise them if that 
seems necessary. The second objec- 
tion is not valid for this particular 
department; if I were trying to give 
you a reasoned opinion on whether 
UFO’s are spaceships from other 

152 




worlds, I would certainly throw out 
the entire occultist school of UFOl- 
ogy. What I have been trying to 
do by ringing in their books, is to 
show how the mystics are apparently 
drowning out and obscuring the seri- 
ous side of saucer intelligence. 

The problem is one of evidence. 
If we accept Donald Keyhoe’s books 
— apart from certain shortcomings in 
the scientific judgment category that 
I have mentioned before — as repre- 
sentative of the sincere, serious school 
of UFO study, then the immediate 
conclusion one must reach is that we 
are dealing only with secondhand, 
hearsay accounts of the allegedly 
"good” sightings. We are told, in 
abstract, or capsule, or paraphrased 
form, what Major Keyhoe says the 
witnesses saw. 

This is not a criticism of the writ- 
er, but a statement of a situation. 
The various UFO organizations such 
as Civilian Saucer Intelligence may 
well have in their files the complete, 
verbatim, eyewitness testimony of 
everyone involved in each sighting. 
If they have, I very much doubt that 
any publisher is going to print this 
documentary chronicle. It would be 
terribly expensive, and about its only 
market would be the people who al- 
ready have it. 

Ironically, the only allegedly eye- 
witness books we have are those by 
people like Adamski, Bethurum and 
Fry, who claim that they have ridden 
in saucers and/or talked with saucer 
people. These are the accounts, often 
mutually contradictory, that are the 
foundation of the occultist wing of 

152 



UFOlogy, and I presume they are 
what my correspondent means by 
"the crackpots.” But, as evidence, 
these are the "sworn” testimony of 
witnesses, and the "serious” books 
are only hearsay. 

There are two recent books, in 
their own ways studies of evidence as 
applied to highly controversial ques- 
tions (almost in the category of sau- 
cers), which show how evidence has 
to be used if it is to prove or disprove 
anything scientifically. The first is 
"The Kensington Stone, A Mystery 
Solved," by Erik Wahlgren, Profes- 
sor of Scandinavian Languages at the 
University of California in Los 
Angeles ( University of Wisconsin 
Press, Madison, Wisconsin; 1958; 
228 pp.; $5.00). The other is "ESP 
and Personality Patterns,” by Dr. 
Gertrude R. Schmeidler of the City 
College of New York psychology de- 
partment and Dr. R. A. McConnell, 
of the University of Pittsburgh bio- 
physics department ( Yale University 
Press, Neiv Haven, Connecticut; 
1958; 136 pp.; $4.00). I don’t think 
every reader of Astounding should 
rush to buy either book, but if you’re 
interested in either subject you should 
know what’s in them. 

Schmeidler and McConnell use the 
terms "sheep” and "goats” to dis- 
tinguish between those of their sub- 
jects who believed in the possibility 
of ESP, and those who did not. It’s 
a very convenient division for this 
whole area: the sheep who believe in 
flying saucers from other worlds, and 
the goats who do not; the sheep 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 



who accepted Hjalmar Holand's assur- 
ances that the survivors of a Viking 
expedition carved and set up a rune- 
stone in Minnesota, some time in 
1362, and the goats who have de- 
nounced the Kensington stone as a 
forgery not much older than the re- 
ported find-date in 1898. 

So far as the Kensington stone is 
concerned. I’ll admit that I’ve been 
a sheep. I saw no reason why the 
Norse — or anybody else, for that mat- 
ter — should not have reached and 
wandered around in America long be- 
fore Columbus reported back, and 
the imposing series of well written, 
seemingly scholarly books and articles 
by the stone’s chief prophet, Hjalmar 
Holand, convinced me of two things: 
(a) that the stone had been dug up 
in 1898 from under the roots of a 
largish tree that had grown over and 
around it, showing that it was reason- 
ably old; and (b) that the peculiar 
combination of inconsistencies in the 
forms of runes, use of words, et 
cetera on the stone were such as to 
point straight at the fourteenth cen- 
tury period when it was supposed to 
have been carved. 

Now Dr. Wahlgren has shoved me 
out of the sheep pen, and down 
among the goats with reasonable peo- 
ple. I don’t like a lot of things about 
his book, and I think he has almost 
as much of the proselyter about him 
as Holand, but he certainly puts the 
skids under the "best” of the evidence 
for the stone’s authenticity, and rais- 
es more than reasonable doubts about 
the rest. 

The catch has been that for fifty 
the reference library 



years, since Holand first appointed 
himself the Kensington stone’s de- 
fender — and owner — he has screen- 
ed most of the evidence that reached 
ordinary people like me. His books 
were exciting, well written, and at- 
tracted space in the reviews, the news- 
papers, and on the library shelves. 
The dissenting articles by philologists, 
historians and archeologists appeared 
in obscure scientific journals, for the 
most part Scandinavian journals, that 
only a handful of people in this 
country ever saw. On a strict vote, 
Holand had it. 

There was another element, which 
is also important in the flying sau- 
cer question and in the H-bomb fall- 
out controversy: who is a competent 
witness? Keyhoe’s main point in his 
books and lectures is now that too 
many expert witnesses have seen 
UFO’s for them to be explained 
away — but a critic of saucers — not of 
saucer books — must now ask, "Ex- 
pert in what?” 

Inadvertently or by clever ma- 
neuvering, Wahlgren says; Holand 
got a very pretty little feedback ar- 
rangement working in his favor. The 
historians and archeologists were not 
in the least impressed with the evi- 
dence that the stone had been buried 
underground for five hundred years 
before the Swedish farmer, Olof Oil- 
man, found it under rather obscure 
circumstance and lugged it into town. 
But they accepted Holand’s assurance 
that "all” the Scandinavian and 
American experts on runes agreed 
that the runes were authentic four- 

153 



teenth century work. They couldn’t 
prove, in their own field of compe- 
tence, that the stone hadn’t been un- 
derground for years; so they deferred 
to the experts in the field where they 
had no personal knowledge. Simul- 
taneously, the runologists who con- 
sidered the carving a lot of garbled 
nonsense, were assured that the his- 
torians had "proved” the stone’s age 
— so they went along with the evi- 
dence of those experts. 

If we are to accept his evidence — 
and he quotes documents and tells 
you where to find them — Professor 
Wahlgren has tipped over the entire 
pile Of "evidence.” There were clear 
affidavits as to the finding of the 
stone, and the tree that grew over 
it; he shows that they are contradicto- 
ry, that the testimony was taken long 
after the event, and that — in a quite 
normal way, it must be admitted — 
some unknown person obviously 
wrote out the statements, said "Is 
that the way it was?”, and the testa- 
tors said “Ja!” and signed at the 
bottom. 

It was argued that Olof Ohman 
was a simple, practically illiterate 
farmer who knew nothing of runes 
or Vikings, and that nobody in the 
neighborhood had any means of fak- 
ing the inscription so cleverly. Well, 
Ohman was by no means an illiterate 
person, he had at least one book 
in his library with a runic alphabet, 
and the newspapers of the time — es- 
pecially the Scandinavian-American 
ones that he and his neighbors read, 
and in which his "discovery” was re- 
ported — were full of the Norse dis- 

154 



covery of America, runes, and all 
that went with them. (To inject a 
science-fictive note, Wahlgren sug- 
gests that the popularity of Jules 
Verne’s "Journey to the Center of 
the Earth” and Ignatius Donnelley’s 
"Atlantis,” with its accounts of 
strange inscriptions elsewhere in 
America, may have helped inspire the 
whole hoax.) 

A hoax is what he considers it: 
something to amaze the neighbors 
and get the experts quarreling among 
themselves, to lighten the dullness of 
the long, cold Minnesota nights. 
Then Holand took up the cause, and 
the simple joke ran away and be- 
came a crusade. 

"ESP and Personality Patterns” is 
not at- all this kind of book. Like 
Harlow Shapley’s book on the Inner 
Metagalaxy, that I reviewed a while 
back, this is a data-packed progress 
report that suggests much and proves 
very little — as the co-authors are the 
first to agree. Parts of it are pretty 
nearly unreadable, except to the stu- 
dent of personality or statistics, and 
for this I do blame the authors, since 
they obviously intend the book 
to be read by laymen. These things 
should be explained, and explained 
simply — as other technical jargon 
is. 

This is what real evidence is like. 
Technically, I suppose it is still hear- 
say, since we aren’t given the score 
sheets for the 250,875 ESP card tri- 
als made by 1157 CCNY students 
between 1943 and 1951. The data 
are reduced to tables. Still, the 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 



buck has nowhere else to go, 
and we’re arguing directly with 
Schmeidler as an experimenter and 
McConnell as a statistician, not with 
what some third person says they did 
or said. 

The results reported are much less 
impressive than those gained by 
Rhine and Pratt at Duke University, 
Soal in England, and many others, 
with picked subjects who made con- 
sistently high scores. The CCNY 
students were close to a random sec- 
tion of all of us, and the results there- 
fore indicate what may be true 
of us all, rather than of a gifted 
few. 

"Sheep,” who believed in ESP, 
scored better than chance in the 
thousands of trials I’ve cited above: 
not much, but a little better. "Goats,” 
who disbelieved, made poorer than 
chance scores . . . and as has often 
been pointed out, this is as good an 
indication as a high score that pure 
chance isn’t working. . 

With the smaller number of sub- 
jects who took various psychological 
tests of personality, including Ror- 
schach ink-blot tests, well-balanced 
people seemed to score higher than 
repressed types. Uncritical, receptive, 
"let-it-ride” subjects did best, and 
this was supported by tests with a 
small group of hospital patients, suf- 
fering from concussion, who were in 
a completely passive, unreasoning, let- 
it-come mood — and scored best of 
all. Other tests indicated that aggres- 
sive types score low. 

You will be interested in the last 
part of the last chapter, on further 



problems and routes for ESP research, 
I suspect this is largely McConnell’s 
contribution. The time has come, he 
insists, to stop spending time and 
money looking for psi powers in 
everybody; we’ll advance most by 
finding people who have these pow- 
ers, and learning what-all they can 
do and how. (This has . been the 
English approach all along, more 
than the American.) 

Since there are many fields in elec- 
tronics and physics where a very 
slight imbalance can be enormously 
amplified by a suitable "trigger” 
action, he suggests experiments to 
see whether psychokinesis can be used 
to throw these reactions in the 
"wrong” direction. Information theo- 
ry may be more useful than ordinary 
probability, in studying data and de- 
vising experiments. (One possible 
case is cited in which telepathy may 
have loused up an experiment in 
magneto-optics.) 

The kind of evidence Schmeidler 
and McConnell set before you is dull 
— but it’s evidence. You can form 
your own opinions on the basis of 
what’s there, if you know how to 
use the stuff. The kind of "evidence” 
in Holand and Keyhoe and many, 
many more is fascinating — but it’s 
hearsay. Some is good, some is bad; 
some is honest, some is mistaken, 
some is faked. How is a layman to 
tell which is which? Don’t be sur- 
prised if the guy at the next desk 
finds Adamski as reasonable as Von 
Braun. He was there, wasn’t he? And 
Von Braun isn’t anywhere near the 
Moon . . . 



THE REFERENCE LIBRARY 



155 



The Best Science Fiction Stories 
and Novels: Ninth Series, edit- 
ed by T. E. Dikty. Advent: Pub- 
lishers, Chicago. 1958. 258 pp. 
$3.50. 

The same fan-backed publishing 
house that gave us damon knight’s 
critical studies of science fiction "In 
Search of Wonder,” as its first offer- 
ing, has now picked up the series of 
annual anthologies started by Fell. 
For sofne reason, it’s a much better 
collection than the last one. It ap- 
pears to cover 1956 and 1957, al- 
though it represents itself as a "best 
of 1957”; perhaps hereafter it will 
really be annual again. 

There are no novels — not even the 
long one-shot stories that appear 
under that claim — in the volume, 
which contains twelve short stories 
and novelettes, four from 1956 and 
the rest from ’57. Five of the twelve 
were published here in Astounding 
Science Fiction; the others come from 
If, F & SF, Venture, Satellite, and 
Science Fiction Stories. There is also 
the editor’s summing up of science- 
fictional news of the year, and Earl 
Kemp’s increasingly complete index 
to SF books published during the 
year. 

This is still not the balanced col- 
lection that it was when Everett Blei- 
ler had a hand in the editing, and it 
should be clear that it doesn’t repre- 
sent the kind of searching and prob- 
ing of all kinds of sources for all 
kinds of stories, that Judith Merril 
has given us in her annual anthologies 
for Gnome and Dell. If there had 

156 



been more anthologies lately, this 
one might not seem quite so good — 
but it is good. 

It might also be pointed out that 
only two of the dozen stories are by 
authors who might be called old- 
timers in the field: Leigh Brackett's 
"The Other People” ("The Queer 
Ones” in Venture ), in which the old 
theme of visiting aliens is handled so 
well that its age doesn’t matter, and 
Eric Frank Russell’s "Into Your Tent 
I’ll Creep,” a joyous little yarn which 
asks who really runs Earth. 

The second stratum of venerability 
gives us Poul Anderson with "Call 
Me Joe,” also published here, a pic- 
ture of strange life on the surface of 
Jupiter that is one of my favorites in 
the book. Chad Oliver, in "Didn't 
He Ramble” ( F&.SF ), is a real sur- 
prise from this source: it could have 
been lost in a Bradbury collection, 
except that it’s less artificial — -an old 
man buying his last years on a planet- 
oid rebuilt in the image of New Or- 
leans in the great days of jazz. Algis 
Budrys’ "Nightsound” was in Satel- 
lite as "The Attic Voice”; it’s the old 
story of the alien who needs help, 
well done. And maybe Tom Godwin 
can be called venerable enough so 
that his "Last Victory” (If) belongs 
here: a politically divided crew is cast 
away on a hostile planet. 

As proof that John Campbell is 
still shaping up good new writers, 
the book opens with Michael Shaara’s 
"2066: Election Day,” whose title 
tells the story, and Kate Wilhelm's 
"The Mile-Long Spaceship,” a puz- 
zling little tale of interstellar telep- 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 



athy. John J. McGuire’s "The 
Queen’s Messenger” is an entertain- 
ment, and a good one: it also ap- 
peared here. James McConnell shows 
us a future in which Earth has be- 
come one vast cemetery, a kind of 
"elephants’ graveyard” for the galaxy, 
in "Coraipt” (If again). Lloyd Big- 
gie, Jr., has one of the best yarns in 
the book in "The Tunesmith,” from 
If, which shows a future in which 
the highest form of creative art is 
writing commercials. And Carol Em- 
shwiller closes with "Hunting Ma- 
chine,” from Science Ficton Stories; 
it’s another satiric projection of a 
present foible, to a time when even 
hunting is mechanized. 

Could be this series will again be- 
come a "must.” I hope so. 



Robots and Changelings, by Les- 
ter del Rey. Ballantine Books, New 
York. No. 246. 1958. 175 pp. 350 

Lester del Rey is a writer who is 
doing far too little writing these 
days. Although there is one 1957 
story in this collection, some of them 
date back to 1949 and to this mag- 
azine and Unknown. It’s a good col- 
lection, but not as good as it would 
be if the author were still writing. 
Look what’s happened to Sturgeon, 
who started off at about the same 
time, and in much the same vein, 
then carved a place all his own. 

Perhaps the distinguishing feature 
of a del Rey story is its deep human- 
ity, even when the character is a robot 

THE REFERENCE LIBRARY 



or an extraterrestrial. Pan, in the 
opening story, his last worshiper 
dead, is someone whose job-finding 
problem is believable. The fairy 
Coppersmith in another much re- 
printed tale, also job-hunting in a 
world which has lost its magic, is 
someone else we’d like to meet. And 
although the secret of "The Mon- 
ster” is guessable, we nevertheless 
are with him all the way. 

The newest of the eleven stories, 
"Little Jimmy,” is a gentle ghost 
story with a strange twist that shows 
del Rey hasn’t lost the touch. "No 
Strings Attached” is a modernized 
demon-pact tale in which logic back- 
fires. On the whole, the fantasies are 
the memorable stories in this lot. 

On the science-fiction side we have 
slight, unostentatious "idea” tales 
with characters who matter. In "The 
Still Waters” an old couple, dragging 
their decrepit freighter from moon to 
moon, finally have to face up to the 
obsolescence of themselves and their 
ship. In "Kindness” the obsolescence 
of a race — the human race — is han- 
dled in a strangely effective way. 
"Stability” offers a kind of variant 
on John Campbell’s classic "Who 
Goes There?”, as explorers on 
Venus try to discover which of them 
has been duplicated by the Venu- 
sians. 

The dog who is the hero of 
"Keepers of the House” is someone 
else we’d like to know: I think this 
is my favorite of the SF group. On 
the other hand, there is "Uneasy 
Lies the Head” with its difficultly 
simple solution to the problem of 

157 



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finding a benevolent dictator’s suc- 
cessor. "The Monster” can’t really 
be summed up without giving its 
gimmick away, though it may be no 
secret to a veteran reader. Finally, 
"Into Thy Hands” is to me the least 
successful of the lot — a variant on 
the Adam and Eve theme, as robots 
try to remake a world Man has de- 
stroyed. "Keepers of the House” did 
the same kind of thing much better. 

I hope the next collection of del 
Rey stories will be all new ones. 



The Second Would of If, Quinn 
Publishing Co., Kingston, N.Y. 
1958. 159 pp. 500 
I hope you got this second collec- 

158 



tion of stories from IF while it was 
on the stands — if it was on them in 
the town where you live. Someone 
got my review copy, and I had a 
tough time locating another. 

If is one of the magazines that is 
consistently pushing the "big three” 
and that gets rather better distribu- 
tion than at least two of them. Its 
stories do very well in anthologies: 
second only to Astounding in this 
year’s Dikty choice. 

You get nine stories this time. 
James Blish’s "The Thing in the 
Attic” is one section of his "Seedling 
Stars” novel: the part about the tree- 
top people. Raymond F. Jones has 
one of his best in "The Colonists”: 
all that’s hard to swallow is the ex- 

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perimenter’s dogged misreading of 
history. James E. Gunn’s "A Monster 
Named Smith” is like a small 
"Needle,” with a protoplasmic alien 
hiding in someone’s body. Charles 
Beaumont’s "The Jungle” is a brutal 
fantasy of voodoo versus science in 
Africa, and Gordon Dickson’s "The 
Odd Ones,” on the other hand, is a 
pleasant little tale in which two 
other-starly monsters pu2zledly study 
Man. 

From Philip K. Dick you expect 
extras — and get them. "The Mold of 
Yancy” is a story of opinion-making 
on Callisto. You can be sure of pretty 
obvious satire in most SF magazines, 



and you get that, too, in Robert F. 
Young’s "Chrome Pastures,” with 
its religion of the automobile show- 
room, and in Bryce Walton’s cruel 
picture of the ultimate in "together- 
ness,” "The Happy Herd.” Good 
gimmick stories are harder to come 
by these days — and harder to do. 
Charles Fontenay’s "Z” puts its se- 
cret into its title, and utilizes a rather 
recent suggestion from the physics 
labs. 

Won’t somebody persuade Street & 
Smith to give us an occasional 
Astounding anthology like this one 
— or preferably an annual like 
F&SF’s? 



THE END 



THE REFERENCE LIBRARY 



159 



( Continued from page 7) 
viduals and the answer of the Group, 
and you’ll get that answer. 

This is the fundamental mechanism 
whereby a Group can be effectively 
wiser than any member of the 
group. 

Now if the individuals guess right 
only fifty per cent of the time, it’s 
clear that a majority vote will be 
right only fifty per cent of the time, 
also. 

But here’s where things get really 
interesting. If the individuals guess 
right only forty per cent of the time 
. . . the Group will guess wrong every 
time! With perfect, logical consisten- 
cy! 

The result is that the individuals 
of the Group now observe that the 
Group is incredibly stupider than any 
member of the Group. 

The above material suggests part 
of why "nothing succeeds like suc- 
cess” — and why "nothing fails like 
failure.” 

If a cultural group is getting right 
answers, their answers are solving, 
and thereby simplifying, the prob- 
lems the culture encounters. A group 
of a given level of competence will, 
under those circumstances, be reduc- 
ing the difficulty of the problems 
they face, and hence their success will 
grow exponentially. 

But if they start making bad de- 
cisions, those decisions complicate the 
problems to be solved. Then not only 
do they have to .solve normal, cur- 
rent problems — and those were al- 
ready proving too tough for them ! — 
but in addition, have to handle the 

160 



complications resulting from their bad 
decisions. 

And this, my friends, is why the 
Dictatorship of the Proletariat is in- 
variably followed by the Classless 
Society of anarchy, chaos, and utter 
breakdown. 

And it makes not the slightest dif- 
ference whether you call him "Pro- 
letarian” or "Plebian” or "Common 
Man”; when he gains control of the 
decision-making mechanism of the 
culture, chaos is the only logical re- 
sult possible. 

Reason: Societies are built by the 
constructive thought of abnormally 
brilliant men — by a Blue Ribbon 
Jury. They construct it by solving 
problems that stopped those around 
them. The United States, for ex- 
ample, was constructed by a Blue 
Ribbon panel of men like Washing- 
ton, Jefferson, Franklin, Hamilton, 
and their peers. 

Every society is formulated by ab- 
normally brilliant men. 

Normal men can’t solve the prob- 
lems involved — even with the help 
of the lessons the brilliant founders 
taught, because conditions change, 
and demand decisions. 

The major problem is that logic 
is incompetent, and Logic is the only 
communicable method of thinking we 
have. We all use another, and far 
more competent method, called vari- 
ously "intuition” or half ' a dozen 
other things — including "emotion.” 
Emotional thinking is anathema to 
logicians. They simply say "Emotion- 
al thinking! It’s illogical!” 

ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION 

I 



So it is. Maybe that fact, if proper- 
ly studied, would lead to something 
that did not have the characteristic 
of Entropy. I don’t say it would — • 
but this much I will assert; it couldn’t 
be much worse than Logic, with its 
built-in sure-for-certain dead-end of 
Entropy.* 

The characteristic bad-decisions 
that the Group makes once they get 
below the fifty per cent-right point 
seem to be quite consistent, too. For 
one thing, they don’t understand why 
the Group is making such incredibly 
stupid decisions, and immediately 
start looking for Who Is Doing This 
To Us. 

There’s always someone around to 
point out an Enemy to blame the stu- 
pidity of the group on. The one 
tiling that can’t be pointed out as the 
source of trouble is the Common 
Man himself. The only cure for the 
situation is, obviously, to go back to 
a Blue Ribbon Jury group — which 
would require that the Common Man 
vote himself out of power. 

So the Big Business Man, or the 
Politician, or the Union Leaders, or 
People With Red Hair, or any other 
non-common-man characteristic can 
be settled on. Hitler rose to power 
in such a situation by pointing out 
the Jews. In Rome, the Christians got 
the office. 

One thing can be guaranteed; a 
Group making wrong decisions can 

' Any logicians objecting to this statement, 
please show how Logic can be a. useful, depend- 
able map of physical reality, which has 
Entropy as a dominant characteristic, and not 
have that characteristic itself. Pragmatic evi- 
dence is nonlogical, but valid, and pragmatic 
evidence shows Entropy is a major character- 
istic of physical systems. 



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be guaranteed to pick, with uncanny 
accuracy, the worst decisions avail- 
able. And as their bad decisions make 
the problems more complex, natural- 
ly they get to be better and better at 
wrong-guessing. 

The next step is a Fantasy Cure. 
“If I were a Dictator,” says the Com- 
mon Man, "I’d get this thing fixed.” 

Now logically, you can’t prove my 
opinion isn’t as good as yours. And 
you can’t prove Bill Blowhard’s 
opinion stinks — not to Bill, you 
can’t. Lou Loudmouth may agree 
with you entirely that Bill Blowhard’s 
a fool — but that’s because Lou knows 
that Bill’s opinion’s wrong, because 
hh is right. 



POLITICAL SCIENCE 



161 



So, presently, there’s an Emperor, 
or Dictator, or Fuehrer, or Boss, or 
Big Brother. 

But this is not the same thing as 
an early-stage King. The Emperor 
appears to be One Man Rule — but he 
definitely isn’t. He's a Fantasy Sym- 
bol — he’s Bill Blowhard become Dic- 
tator; he’s the Common Man’s, the 
Plebeian’s, fantasy of himself as dic- 
tator. And the Emperor is controlled 
by the populace. 

Characteristically, since the Gods 
have the power to make What They 
Say come true, the Emperor will be, 
effectively, deified. 

Usually, the first Boss isn’t too 
bad; Augustus was a genuine first- 
rate organizer. Hitler was a remark- 
ably efficient organizer — a genuine, 
no-kidding Mad Genius. And you'll 
notice that, even in these times, Hitler 
& Co. did some diddling around 
with the matter of Religion; they 
were nudging in the direction of the 
Old Gods. Given a generation or two, 
.as the Roman Emperors were, Der 
Fuehrer would have been deified, too. 

The essence of the Boss is that he 
is the Common Man’s fantasy-pro- 
jection of hitnself — and that means 
having the godlike power of having 
his commands become Truth. 

Logic, however, is leading straight 
toward the No-Difference situation. 
In a no-difference situation, where all 
opinions are equally good, you’re 
heading for Anarchy, the Classless 
Society. Because in a Classless So- 
ciety there can be no crimes; if there 
were, you’d automatically have a 
criminal class. And to have crime 

162 



means to have judgments on other 
people’s opinions; to say "His opin- 
ion is wrong,” and seek to impose 
that judgment. 

Logic denies the validity of Judg- 
ment, for Judgment entails value — 
and Logic denies any value save True 
and False. Logic requires a Classless 
Society, in which every man’s opinion 
is equal to every other’s. 

We’re nibbling toward it very hap- 
pily here in the United States right 
now. Murder used to be considered a 
crime — but now it’s rated as a fairly 
serious misdemeanor. Oh, not legally 
—but "I don’t care what you say; 
what do you dol” Juveniles, in par- 
ticular, are being very clearly shown 
that we have a nearly Classless So- 
ciety, for when half a dozen juveniles 
murder a youngster on the street in 
New York, they are freed with little 
more than a severe tsk-tsk-tsk, And 
in England, there is a strong move- 
ment to remove homosexuality from 
the list of crimes. After all, we 
mustn’t impose our opinions on oth- 
ers, must we ? 

Yes . . . and homosexuality was 
accepted in Greece, just before its 
fall. And in Rome, in the latter days. 
And in Hitlerite Germany. After all, 
now, you can’t prove, logically, that 
the homosexual doesn’t have as much 
right to his opinion as you do to 
yours, can you? 

No, you can’t. 

This is the way a world ends . . . 
Not with a bang; with a whimper. 

A whimper of "I’ve got a right to 
my own opinion, ain’t I?” 

The Editor 

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